BNC community analysis of the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Report

A new report, Zero Carbon Australia 2020, has been released today. Its aim is to “show how Australia can reach 100% renewable energy within a decade, using technology that is commercially available right now“. From their website:

The guiding principles of ZCA 2020 include:

  • Australia’s energy is provided entirely from renewable sources at the end of the transition period.
  • All technological solutions employed are from proven, reliable technology which is commercially available.
  • The security and reliability of Australia’s energy supply is maintained or enhanced by the transition.
  • Food and water security are maintained or enhanced by the transition.
  • Australians continue to enjoy a high standard of living.
  • Social equity is maintained or enhanced by the transition.
  • Other environmental indices are maintained or enhanced by the transition.

The download is an 8.6 MB colour PDF, 194 pages long (including appendices). But it’s a nicely presented document, so it not a difficult read and can be done in parts.

Here, I throw a challenge down to the BNC community — analyse and critique! [I will also participate, of course]. Some guiding principles, in the spirit of TCASE:

1. Be fair — acknowledge what is good and useful about this effort. [From my first skim, I would say 50% is good to excellent, 15% is so-so, 15% is highly dubious and 20% is unmitigated nonsense]

2. Focus on key assumptions — how sensitive are the outcomes to these, and how grounded in reality are they? [Cost for CSP is a good example]

3. What are the gaps? This will help — print out and have it to hand: “A checklist for renewable energy plans

4. What are the biases? Are there examples of cherry picking? What important details have been glazed over?

5. Are the estimates of system reliability, build time and cost, acceptable? [Monthly averages...?]

6. What are the environmental impacts of this plan, compared to alternatives?

And so on. Perhaps the comments can also help me build up this list of guiding principles better aid later commenters.

Okay, BNCers unleashed!

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560 Comments

  1. Are all proposed generation and storage technologies mature?

    No.

    As the endorsement quotes in the foreword say (emphases are mine),

    Torresol Energy has three plants currently under construction. Among them, Gemasolar, with an innovative technology of central tower with molten salt receiver and thermal storage system, is the first commercial plant in the world of its kind.

    and

    Currently, advanced solar thermal power with molten salt storage…is about four times more expensive than the cheapest coal fired power plants. But the cost of new technologies always reduces with large-scale rollout.

  2. Right now I don’t have time to comb through the report so I was drawn to page 121 where electricity prices are discussed. Apparently you good folks are paying about 0.20 Australian dollars per KWAh and the plan will increase this by about one third.

    Thankfully I live in Florida where the electricity costs only 60% of what you are paying. The main power company here (Florida Power & Light) operates a large solar mirror plant and a 75 MW photo-voltaic that is currently the largest in the USA.

    Even though the PV project is currently the largest in the USA it is a financial joke among FPL executives. They already know that these solar plants are a waste of time; they would never have been built without government subsidies.

  3. I also haven’t gone through the report yet, but if it is quoting $0.20/kWh for electricity in Australia, I think that is an exageration. I am paying $0.1386 for residential electricity. Large businesses and industrial users pay less (as they should). So, at first glance, the ZCA has a 50% exaggeration right there.

  4. I think it will take a while for the full implications of the report to sink in. However just looking at the 16 page synopsis
    http://media.beyondzeroemissions.org/ZCA-Stationary_Energy_Synopsis_20June10.pdf
    it is hard to go past what seem like obvious quibbles. For example it says that onsite biomass fired boilers will supplement CST heat banks when needed. There’s the slight problem that deserts are best suited to CST and lush rainfall country to growing biomass. Will woodchips be trucked 500 km or whatever from Gippsland to Mildura?

    Another eye popper is the grid upgrade map at Figure 12. Surely we won’t have two parallel new transmission lines across the Nullarbor? Unless it is some kind of graphical symbolism not explained in the synopsis.

    Critiquing this report will prove heavy going. You have to keep checking back to make sure you read it right. Next I’d like to see how the ‘great big new tax’ money will be allocated. Is it all upfront capital cost or will there be ongoing subsidies like the FiT? Unfortunately it looks like I’ll have to download the full report … when I have more bandwidth.

  5. John,

    Yes, it will take time to get a concise critique of a 194 page doc finished in short order. I suggest we all put our hands up and identify the areas of the report we feel qualified / knowledgeable to critique, so we know who’s focusing on what. Hopefully Barry or someone (not me! :) can then collate it into a final document, with the individual reports also available perhaps.

    Hand up -> I’ll look at wind. I would hope and expect that we can have more than one person critiquing each section though. And perhaps one or two brave individuals with time and/or a sympathetic / aligned paying day job maybe tackling the report as a whole.

  6. Bryen, John, agreed, it would be good to break the problem down into sections, with different people focusing on different parts that interest them.

    Also, feel free (to anyone) to just make a small comment about 1 page or 1 assumption — I expect this will work best in snippets rather than essays in the comments here, so feel free to use this thread as an iterative and ‘consensus’ building tool.

    The end point aim is definitely to have a collated document for BZE to respond to, in a few weeks time.

  7. John Newlands<

    Another eye popper is the grid upgrade map at Figure 12. Surely we won’t have two parallel new transmission lines across the Nullarbor?

    We need ‘n+1′ transmission lines; one is for redundancy. You may recall this:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/10/solar-realities-and-transmission-costs-addendum/
    which includes this statement:

    We’ll base the costs on building a trunk transmission system from Perth to Sydney, with five north-south transmission lines linking from the solar thermal regions at around latitude 23 degrees. The Perth to Sydney trunk line is 4,000 km and the five north-south lines average 1000 km each. Add 1,000 km to distribute to Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane. Total line length is 10,000km. All lines must carry 25GW.

    Each of the double circuit 500kV lines from Eraring Power Station to Kemps Creek can transmit 3,250MW so let’s say we would need 8 parallel lines for 25GW plus one extra as emergency spare.

    The cost of the double circuit 500kV lines is about $2M/km.

    For nine lines the cost would be $18M/km.

    So the total cost of a transmission system to transmit from the ‘Somewhere Region’ to the demand centres is 10,000km x $18M/km = $180 billion

    The trunk transmission lines might represent half the cost of the complete transmission system enhancements needed to support the renewable generators.

  8. Martin Nicholson,

    I was hoping you might investigate how ZCA has calculated the amount of solar thermal capacity needed to cover the worst case scenario. What is their worst case scenario? I notice there are only 12 solar power stations and they are not located in the regions of highest insolation. Do they have sufficient generating capacity and storage capacity to handle the situation of several days of widespread overcast weather in Eastern Australia? Have they allowed sufficient transmission capacity to get the power from Geraldton to the Eastern states in such a situation? Does Geraldton CST have sufficient generating and storage capacity to power the Eastern states for several days?

    If this is not the worst case scenario, then what is? What is the basis for their definition of the worst case scenario?

    Don’t rush to answer this. Tomorrow morning will do :)

  9. My major concern with extensive collection of solar power is the cost to biodiversity. Areas have to be completely cleared for this use. There will be yet another front to fight against continued loss of natural habitat. This cost would be much less for nuclear.

  10. Cost data for solat tower instalations are derived from a 2003 study,”Assessment of Parabolic Trough and Power Tower Solar Technology Cost and Performance Forecasts,” by Sargent & Lundy LLC Consulting Group.
    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/pdfs/34440.pdf

    Sargent & Lundy makes assumptions about economies of scale that are at best speculative. The assumption is that with increasing unit production, prices will go down. But this assumption was not born out in the wind generation Industry. Between 2003 and 2008, the cost of wind generation units went up between 2003 and 2008 despite increasing production.

    Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan does not attempt to verify Sargent & Lundy cost projections between 2003 and 2009, despite the availability of data that could be used to do so.

    The Energy Information Agency of the United States DoE annually publishes projected cost estimates for energy projects. The 2016 cost estimates for ST are would place its levelized cost at $0.2566 per kWh, excluding the cost of new transmission lines. This figure is far higher that the S&L 2003 estimate of $0.14 per kWh for solar tower output.
    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/01/eia-2016-nuclear-costs-will-be-lower.html

    The study also made use of Sandia National Laboratory’s notoriously optimistic Sunlab estimates of solar costs. Again, no attempt was made to verify the accuracy of Sunlab estimates for 2003 to 2009. The Sunlab’s 2016 cost estimate for solar tower levelized power appears to be lower than the EIA estimate by something close to a factor of 10. Quite obviously both estimates cannot be right.

    Thus the Zero Carbon Australia does not appear to offer credible cost estimates for the solar tower portions of its plan.

  11. Charles Barton,

    Excellent point. Another example that supports what you say is the NEEDS (2008) study. They used enormously optimistic “learning curves” for new capacity which resulted in them projecting that the cost per MWh would decrease by about 10% per year. Instead, as you point out, the costs actually rose. EPRI, an authoritative source of electricity industry cost information, has the LCOE of solar thermal rising from $175/MWh to $225/MWh between their 2008 and 2009 reports – a 30% increase in one year.

    EPRI’s LCOE of $225/MWh for 2009 is close to the EIA LCOE of $0.2566 per kWh ($256/MWh) you mentioned.

    [EPRI (2009), Table 8-2 and p10-20 gives cost as US$225/MWh (= A$250/MWh) for case with 6h energy storage (2008 constant $). It is worth noting that the cost has increased 30% in 1 year; the cost in the 2008 version of this same report was US$175/MWh.]

    References:

    EPRI (2009): EPRI (2009b). Program on technology innovation: integrated generation technology options; Technical Update, November 2009.
    http://my.epri.com/portal/server.pt?Product_id=000000000001019539

    NEEDS (2008). Final report on technical data, costs, and life cycle inventories of solar thermal power plants.
    http://www.needs-project.org/docs/results/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf

  12. Martin Nicholson,

    I see the result of modelling the question I asked you above. It is in figure 4.1, page 80.

    I don’t have any way yo check this, but I am highly dubious about the solar generating capacity on the worst days. We know we can have large areas of the eastern states with overcast conditions for several days at a times in winter. We also know that capacity factors drop to very low levels for days at a time. I am very doubtful about this part of the analysis. My gut feeling is they haven’t really searced for the worst case scenario.

  13. From the Executive Summary:

    When compared to other nations, Australia’s renewable energy resources are amongst the best and the most profitable to develop. Thus, these resources offer a strategic advantage for all Australians as we prepare to compete in the future carbon-constrained global economy.

    As long as we are just talking about technosolar to the exclusion of hydro power and volcanic geothermal, I would heartily agree with the above statement, and further add that Australia’s low population density improves our ability to leverage the contribution of technosolar contributions to our energy supply. So much so, in fact, that I think it could be reasonably asserted that if technosolar renewable power cannot be practically implemented here, it cannot be done anywhere. A negative assessment on the practicability of this particular scheme for Australia is thus a de facto negative assessment for similar schemes worldwide.

  14. Much of the solar power cost estimate is based on the SolarReserve’s 100 MW Tonopah project in Nevada. A little analysis brings out some interesting information. The project is designed to operate with Molten Salt Energy storage, and will reportedly produce 480,000 MWe a year, for a capacity factor of 55%. Zero Carbon estimates its cost at $700 million according to a 2009 news report, but they have since backed away from cost estimates. In addition the project will have to use some form of dry cooling, which is likely to increase costs, while lowering project efficiency by about 10%. So think in terms of a 50% capacity factor. On the basis of the estimated capacity factor, the cost of the gathering field could run as high as $12 per watt of rated output. Zero Carbon estimates 10.5 billion (Australian?) dollars per watt for the first GW project.

    Given the speculative nature of the assumption that the cost of subsequent projects will drop, we cannot assume the sort of future price drops Zero Carbon assumed. EIA 2016 cost projections make ST power twice as expensive as nuclear power, and this is certainly plausible, given what we know about the Zero Carbon estimates.

  15. A question re : Fig 4.1 modelling. How abstracted/real/credible is the half hour averaging in their modelling? After all the AEMO data I look at comes in 5 minute time intervals and the NEM grid operates at this level. e.g. this brief sample of Capital WF :

    12/07/10 23:20 6.9952
    12/07/10 23:25 8.6256
    12/07/10 23:30 0
    12/07/10 23:35 0
    12/07/10 23:40 0
    12/07/10 23:45 6.8892
    12/07/10 23:50 6.5648
    12/07/10 23:55 0
    13/07/10 0:00 0
    13/07/10 0:05 0
    13/07/10 0:10 3.6004
    13/07/10 0:15 2.3976
    13/07/10 0:20 6.42
    13/07/10 0:25 0
    13/07/10 0:30 0
    13/07/10 0:35 0
    13/07/10 0:40 0.3928

    This behaviour above regularly happens in wind farm data, where its bouncing on and offline.

    Also, as the plan is for 10 years, shouldn’t they have modelled 10 years of data rather than a single year? Some years are surely going to be worse / better /different weather wise than others, and the technology is transitioning each year also. How will this transition be affecting the grid and emissions from fossil backup while it is still in service? Fig 4.1 and the modelling give the false impression that this transition from now to 100% renewables will be instantaneous.

  16. Charles,

    Did you see Section 3.1, pp45-61? It does contain cost estimates. On page 61 they give a total for the CST (air cooled) at $190 billion. On page 60 they state an efficiency loss of just 1.3% for air cooling. This figure doesn’t look correct to me.

    Table 3.7 (page 57) shows they are assuming a capacity factor of 72%.

    I am ‘thinking out loud’ in the following comments.

    I suspect the real problem with this exercise may be in their assumptions for the CST storage capacity and the transmissions capacity from each power station. Figure 4.1 and 4.2 show a summary of the output from the modelling. They have 17 hours of storage at each CST generator. They have analysed the demand and supply on half hour intervals, which is good. They have identified what they say is the worst case situation (page 84). I am left wondering if they have considered the storage, generation capacity and transmission capacity required from each individual site. For example, if half the CST power stations are under cloud at the same time for several days, as happens, the other CST power stations have to provide all the power. Is the storage, generation capacity and transmission capacity from each site sufficient to provide all the power when many of the other sites are not contributing? I suggest they need to analyse not only by half hour intervals of total output, but by half hour intervals at each individual generator.

    For this reason, I do believe (at the moment) their figures for required CST generating capacity and transmission capacity.

    A comment on total cost. They estimate $370 billion. (I suspect it is much higher). However, even if the $370 billion figures is correct, that is still over three times the cost of nuclear to do the same job.

  17. This statement on p84 suggests optimism:

    Worst-case scenario

    The period of lowest wind and sun over the modelled time
    period occurs on 27 June 2009 (early hours). This event
    arose after a single day of very low insolation (371 GWh on
    26 June compared to next lowest for the month of 441 GWh
    and daily average for June of 690 GWh) and with very little
    wind overnight, dropping to almost no output. This low-wind
    situation would not be expected to actually eventuate in the
    proposed ZCA2020 grid, as geographical diversity suggests
    the system will have a realistic minimum wind output of
    7,500 MW.

  18. I note in the supply breakdown Table 4.1 that curtailment is 95.7TWh in 2008 and 116.6TWh in 2009. This is an interesting point.

    For example see :

    Dobesova, K, Apt, J & Lave, L (2005) “Are Renewables Portfolio Standards Cost-Effective Emission Abatement Policy?”, Environmental Science & Technology 39, pages 8578-8583.

    This paper reports that in the Texas grid the rapid build of wind energy has caused grid congestion. This resulted in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to request wind producers to “curtail” (i.e. dump and not use) the electricity generated by wind turbines. They give the example of 2002 where ERCOT requested curtailment of 380,000 MWh, 13% of wind generated electricity. ERCOT then had to compensate wind producers with payments of US$9.1million for “the value of lost tax credits and renewable energy credits” and these costs were passed on to consumers. The curtailment fund was fully expended in both 2002 and 2003, and was fully expended in 2003 by April 2003.

    I cannot see anywhere in the report where this issue is addressed in terms of cost. What will be the situation for generators that are asked to curtail output. Will they be compensated? If so by how much? How will this be dealt with in the transition period?

  19. Charles, that’s a good point about the Sergeant & Lundy cost estimates. Martin Nicholson and I have looked at cost estimates for CSP+gas hybrids, for a paper that we recently submitted, and it was also clear from these authoritative assessments (NEEDS, IEA etc.) that costs were rising, not falling. I suspect this, along with the additional uncosted requirements for redundancy in the transmission system that Peter described, would blow the cost out from $370 billion to closer to $750 billion, or perhaps even $1 trillion when you start to get slightly more realistic about overbuilding and redundancy, beyond their not-worst-worst-case-scenarios. In short, it just gets ridiculous, really fast, as you start to tinker with these cost curve speculations…

    Gene Preston made the following comment to me:

    The $8/day may sound low cost on the surface, however, I estimated in my head while on my morning walk that its roughly $32,000 US dollars per person. This is about the same as the current US debt per person.

  20. The zero carbon 2020 report is basically a conceptual document. Now what is needed are the details. We need specific projects with time tables and cash flows to be developed. New solar plants and new wind farms must be constructed. Financing must be arranged. Integration into the existing grid will take careful and rather detailed planning. Personally I think it will be more difficult than the authors have stated. I doubt the economics will flow smoothly. Also, I wonder if there is enough water to keep the solar panels clean? Good luck to the authors. You have just done the first step, which is to create the vision.

  21. $17.5B/Gw – CSP with storage. Largest in the world just fired up.

    For example, in Alvarado, Spain, the energy firm Acciona inaugurated a 50-MW (20 MWavg) concentrating solar power plant in late July. The cost is €236 million, about $350 million U.S., or about $7,000 per kilowatt.

  22. Did anyone note the assumptions about motor vehicles and trains (page 16/17) :

    “replacement of the present petroleum-fuelled fleet with
    electric vehicles, comprising ‘plug-in, battery swap’
    models and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, using liquid
    biofuels to extend the driving range;”

    This would require retiring the 12 million current vehicles plus all those that are sold between now and the target date, and substituting with 6 million electric vehicles plus public transport.

    This type of assumption beggars belief and does an injustice to the legitimate advocacy of renewables and the realistic role that they could perform in the coming decades.

  23. I am sure the people on this site can tear this report to pieces on technical gounds,and rightly so.However,I would like to look at a few fundamentals.

    I am not,in principle,against the renewable forms of electricity generation.I own a 5.4 kw Solar PV installation,grid connected,with back up.This suits my particular circumstances.There are plenty of applications in Australia,particularly in remote areas, where Solar PV and Solar Thermal would make sense.

    Where renewables fall down is in the provision of base load power scaled up to our present electricity demand nationwide.Wind and solar are diffuse forms of energy and must be concentrated.This is expensive.
    The technology for scaled up solar thermal is far from proven.

    Wind and solar generators must be built in locations where they get the maximum wind and sun.These are often a great distance from the electricity users so a massive grid has to be built in addition to the existing one.

    As wind and solar are intermittent and unreliable there must be storage capacity to cope with this.It will have to be a huge storage capacity if the system is not to go down at various times.

    With such a diverse range of generators there will need to be a control system capable of handling this.Does such an animal exist or is it ever likely to exist?

    Overall,the proposed system would be extremely expensive and almost certainly not work reliably in it’s stated aim of providing base load power.
    When,if ever,this proposal gets serious consideration by government and industry it will certainly get the thumbs down.So the whole exercise is really a waste of time and a diversion from the real issues and practical solutions to them.

    In reality,Australia has a choice of building a nuclear generation capacity or continuing with burning coal and gas.

    Given the infantile nature of a large part of the population and a majority of the leadership,the latter course,being the easiest in the short term,will be taken.

  24. Bryen,
    Your example of 5min output from one wind farm( ranging from 0-10% of capacity) gives zero indication of what 5min variation is on the 18 wind farms connected to NEM grid. These figures are available, not a large range in 5min versus 30 min output. Changes occur over hours, and thats with a relatively small area compared with what is proposed.
    Hopefully OZ-wind modeling will give better information on this point.
    I thought it was strange that no wind farms are sited in TAS when in fact this has some of the best wind resources ( and lots of back-up hdyro)

  25. Some random points on the report. There is no explanation how the 60%:40% split between CST and wind optimises some kind of least cost combination problem. Molten salt storage is claimed to be more efficient than pumped hydro but ignores the heavy throwaway losses of heat engines. There appears to be no role for natural gas which still have in plenty for now. This means abandoning a huge infrastructure. It is not explained how users of buildings, appliances and transport will be forced into efficiency measures and electrification. Nor rebound spending on the energy saved. Cash for cars, clunkers or not?

    I would like to see a working model of a biomass supplemented CST plant to see if it works in the real world. I’ll have to think more on the role of financing and forced public spending. A $100bn NP dominated energy mix could be funded by incentives ie carrots. $300bn of landscape altering renewables will need a stick.

  26. I was disappointed that the ZCA 2020 plan put so much emphasis on solar with thermal storage. I think the reason wind power was limited to 40% stationary power was due to a basic miss-understanding of Australia’s hydro storage resources and potential to add very significant pumped storage onto existing dams.
    The value of solar with thermal storage is the high efficiency of storing a few days output, excellent for managing peaks and managing short term valuations in wind power. The value of existing hydro resources is in long term storage(seasonal), and the value of large storage capacity pumped storage is for days to weeks storage needs because the major cost is capacity not storage amounts. Existing pumped storage is being used to insure against short term exceptional demand spikes, and is not indicative of how pumped storage could be used with renewable energy such as wind.

  27. The report does contain specific projects, such as 12 solar plants each having 3500 MW capacity.

    Lets say that we want to build one of those plants as soon as possible. Refering to this 50 MW $380 million USD plant design as a guide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andasol_Solar_Power_Station we see that a 3500 MW plant would cost about 26.6 billion US dollars. The 50 MW solar plant would produce about the same amount of energy as a 23 MW nuclear plant. The approximate up front cost would be about 16,500 US $/kW when comparing this solar plant with a nuclear plant costing up to $7000/kW. The 3500 MW solar plant with storage would cover an area of about 3500 hectares or 35 square kilometers. Have you ever tried to clean 35 square km of mirrors? I would think the water requirements would be impossible to obtain in arid Australia.

    My conclusion is that the proponents should proceed to obtain financing for their first 3500 MW solar plant for a mere 26 billion US dollars and then proceed to build and operate the plant. I doubt it will ever get past the conceptual paper concept stage.

  28. Neil Howes,

    I think the reason wind power was limited to 40% stationary power was due to a basic miss-understanding of Australia’s hydro storage resources and potential to add very significant pumped storage onto existing dams.

    The value of existing hydro resources is in long term storage(seasonal), and the value of large storage capacity pumped storage is for days to weeks storage needs because the major cost is capacity not storage amounts. Existing pumped storage is being used to insure against short term exceptional demand spikes, and is not indicative of how pumped storage could be used with renewable energy such as wind.

    You keep repeating this bunkum statement as if by doing so you can make it come true. It has been debunked repeatedly, so why keep repeating it? Why haven’t you responded to this post: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/30/ozea-bucket-wind-model/#comment-80281 ?

    Is the lack of response by the RE advocates to this post a case of cognitive dissonance?

  29. If there was money available (or raid the $43bn NBN kitty) I wouldn’t be opposed to a large country town making a serious attempt at electrical self-sufficiency using the CST and wind combination. Say Mildura or Geraldton. While this loses the geographic spread of an all-renewable grid the import of out-of-town electricity could be a proxy. Perhaps for a month they could turn off the gas but there would be little if any electric transport.

    The value of this exercise would be to demonstrate the cost, reliability and intrusiveness of the ZCA concept. Otherwise we will waste another decade burning as much coal as ever while deep greens take centre stage telling us the solution is simple.

  30. John Newlands,

    We’ve been doing these sorts of demo projects for 30+ years (eg the solar thermal power station at Whitecliffs, NSW in about 1983). David Mills (solar thermal) has been extracting his booty from the public purse for even longer. All these projects are “just about to be economically viable, if only the government could see the light and give more subsidies”.

    The same story has been going on for decades. These rip-off merchants keep convincing new and gullible young people and new and gullible politicians that they have the silver bullet if they could just have a bit more government funding.

    Will we ever learn? I don’t think so.

    I can see we will fund some more of these “demo projects”. And that will further delay us making the rational decisions.

    It’s all spin and no substance.

    No proper cost benefit analyses by people competent to do so.

    Which brings me to the list of people who endorsed the ZCA2020 report. Basically it is a list of renewable energy advocates and wishful thinkers. There are no senior, competent electricity industry insiders. The only name I saw who does know something is Keith Orchison, and he was pretty careful with his words; read between the lines.

  31. Peter Lang
    You keep repeating this bunkum statement as if by doing so you can make it come true. It has been debunked repeatedly, so why keep repeating it? Why haven’t you responded to this post:

    This is a bit harsh, I did reply several times on the mentioned post and on oz-wind.
    The last reply you gave was:

    Wow! We’ve actually agreed on something.

    My caveat of course, which goes without saying, is that I’d only support wind power if it is economic without subsidies. I can’t see how that can be the case, virtually ever.

    I have not been arguing on costs of renewable energy or nuclear but in fact your own cost estimates for several large pumped hydro schemes placed costs of storage <$100/kWh stored and $1000/kW capacity. These costs are not additive, usually its power capacity not storage capacity that is the issue. If you are now saying that it would not be feasible to build 8GW to 16GW of additional long term pumped storage, or that there is not the storage capacity in existing dams, of they could not use variable flow pumps or the energy from wind power cannot be stabilized when fed into the grid by 15-25GW of spinning reserve, thats a technical issue I would challenge.

    I have not been arguing on price of renewable versus nuclear as Australia has not let out any tenders for a nuclear power plants, all we have is a range of possible costs based on overseas experience. This also applies to CSP costs. Wind power however is being built in Australia and we have a good idea of present costs.
    Looking at Infigens annual report they report a capacity factor of 36% for their Australian wind farms( 508MW), similar to their US wind farms, but much higher than their EU farms.

  32. This is a good idea John, and analogous to the idea of commissioning renewables to try to replace Hazelwood. Let renewables have the money they think they need to power one sizeable community — say at least 20,000 people in a rural area for one year. The community gets to vote on it (minimum 75% support and quorum) and gets their energy free. When the facility is ready, it comes online and the grid is disconnected.

    The local hospital and petrol stations get their own generators, water treatement and pumping as standby and if they are deployed, this is recorded. We record load shedding. We answer the question of whether there is any point to to renewables at all.

  33. Fran,
    This is already being done to some extent in Esperance, WA where they have a mix of wind and diesel back-up. The real value of renewable energy or nuclear energy is not what can be generated at one site with one technology or one reactor design, its how the nation can be powered using all of the resources available, how quickly it can be built to replace coal fired power and what level of FF use is acceptable in 10, 20 or 50 years. Its not realistic to expect to start building 30GW of CSP or 30GW of nuclear from zero capacity. In both cases we would need to start building one or two GW capacity. In the meantime we can continue adding wind capacity even if it never becomes more than 40% of total power generation.

  34. Response to Peter Lang. You are right. I’m not going to give you a full forensic analysis today. It may take a few weeks but some initial comments on the CST proposal.

    They do seem to have attempted to analyse the impact of contemporaneous cloud cover and wind loss. My concerns would be around geographic analysis. As you say an analysis would be needed in each region unless all the inter-regional links can handle 100% of demand in the region (with zero or very low local generation). I haven’t checked this in their proposal but it would seem to be a possible exposure.

    I am also concerned about the biomass back-up. CSP plants are usually built in low rainfall locations (high insolation) so local fuel supply may be an issue. Transporting pelletised crop waste is not like piping gas. Maybe the crop waste could be gassified at the growing site for transportation? I didn’t see any reference to the emission impact of transporting biomass (someone might be able to correct that). Will just 2% biomass back-up be enough? Not intuitively everywhere.

    Another concern is the ability of steam turbines to handle the rapid ramp rates that can be required to back-up wind. They do suggest on page 51 that this is not a problem but has this been demonstrated? It isn’t normally done today to my knowledge with steam (again perhaps someone can correct me on that as well).

    More to follow ….

  35. This is already being done to some extent in Esperance, WA where they have a mix of wind and diesel back-up.

    Not really

    A new gas-fired power station, new gas pipeline and new wind farm were built to boost the town’s electricity supply. The electricity network was upgraded at the same time.

    The power station has high-efficiency, low-emission gas turbine generators. It is manned, controlled and operated in Esperance and monitored remotely from Perth. Greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by up to 30% as a result the new generators.

    Burns Roe Worley own and operate the power station.

    Natural gas for the new power station is supplied via a new gas pipeline from Kambalda.

    It is obvious that to some extent here means mostly not. This is simply a hybrid system with some marginal renewables in a quite small community.

    The real value of renewable energy or nuclear energy is not what can be generated at one site with one technology or one reactor design, its how the nation can be powered using all of the resources available

    I agree, but at the moment we have so many claims that start off saying something like “renewables could …” that I think there is a real need to be able to say “renewables have …” otherwise we are going to have analytic paralysis.

    No more proof of principle projects should be done in things claiming to be able to do baseload. Let them actually show they can deliver in practice at scale and let us see what that cost is and assess the performance.

    If it turns out to be adequate and cost competitive, fine. We move forward. We can roll out others in places with similar specs and scale up. But if it turns out simply to be unviable, as I strongly suspect it would, then we can discard the concept and work with something that is.

  36. Neil,

    re Esperance. The story is little more involved than your described :

    “The current power system comprises two wind farms (5.6 MW total capacity) which operate in parallel with the 30 MW Esperance gas-fired power station owned and operated by Esperance Power Station Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of WorleyParsons). The majority of the electricity on this system comes from these gas turbines.

    The wind farm includes a control system based on a Master Controller, which talks directly with the gas turbine control system to manage the wind farm output. Due to the distance of the wind farms from the power station, the system incorporates sophisticated high reliability communications equipment using digital radio modems and fibre optic within the wind farms.

    The wind farms generate about 22% of Esperance’s electricity. Maximum instantaneous penetration is just over 65%”

    Quoted from :

    http://www.horizonpower.com.au/environment/renewable_energy/wind/wind_nine_mile.html

    I just wanted to make it clear that it is not a wind supply and diesel back up. Far from it. Its a gas powered system with a wind “contribution”.

    One of the Esperance wind turbines recently also took a lightning hit :

    http://www.esperanceexpress.com.au/news/local/news/general/wind-turbine-takes-lightning-hit/1846075.aspx

    I’ll reply to your other comments later.

  37. Neil Howes,

    The real value of renewable energy or nuclear energy is not what can be generated at one site with one technology or one reactor design, its how the nation can be powered using all of the resources available, how quickly it can be built to replace coal fired power and what level of FF use is acceptable in 10, 20 or 50 years. Its not realistic to expect to start building 30GW of CSP or 30GW of nuclear from zero capacity. In both cases we would need to start building one or two GW capacity.

    All true. But the questions we need to ask is: which direction should we persue?

    It is true we can keep playing around the edges building renewables. In doing so we keep wasting our resources and delaying real progress, as we have been doing for the past 30+years.

    We need to decide which way to go. Do we build more windmills and demo CST plants, and keep going like this ad infinitum, or do we make the commitment to get started with nuclear. I argue the decision should be based on a rational assessment (economics).

    It’s clear to me which way that decisions would go. The choice is:

    1. Nuclear at $4100/kW for the initial power stations then decreasing thereafter, or
    2. Wind with gas back-up at $11,800/kW (average) for output equivalent to a nuclear power station.
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/30/ozea-bucket-wind-model/#comment-80281

    If we commit to the Zero Carbon Australia by 2020 path, we’ll be committing to a path that will cost at least $370 billion (BZE estimate) but more likely will exceed $1 trillion. If we commit to the nuclear path, it will cost around $120 billion for the same outcome.

    Some will, ask “but what about the safety?” Clearly the nuclear option is far safer. If we spend $370 billion to $1 trillion on the ZCA2020 approach, that is $370 billion to $1 trillion less to spend on Health (hospitals, doctors, nurses, ambulances, paramedics, care helicopters, etc). That’s a lot of deaths caused because we wasted our money on the wrong solution.

  38. Neil Howes,

    I wonder why the wind power is included at all. What does it do? It seems it is simply capital investment for no return.

    Wind power can go for days at a time with negligible generation. For example, we have1609MW of wind capacity in the NEM. It is spread over an area 1200km (east-west) by 800 km (north-south). From 17 to 22 May it generated little power and sometimes zero power for hours at a time. From memory, the capacity factor was about 1% for two days. Not much better for a week. So we can go for long periods with no wind power over large regions.

    The proposed CST will have 17 hours energy storage (none have yet been built anywhere in the world I understand). When the wind isn’t blowing anywhere, the CST will have to provide all the power.

    So why should we waste money investing in wind power? It seems to me we need to make a strategic decisions whether to go with unproven CST (for probably in excess of $1 trillion) or proven nuclear for around $120 billion.

    By the way, the cost to replace the existing generations system with nuclear is not $120 billion, it is only the extra cost of replacing existing power stations with nuclear at the end of their economic lives instead of replacing them with new coal. The additional cost for nuclear is relatively small and could be a negative cost if we remove all the impediments to nuclear.

  39. Hi All,

    bryen, on 14 July 2010 at 21.52 was quite correct to query the accuracy of any modelling that is not as fine-grained as 5 minutes. For this discussion, I refer to the data for the entire windfarm fleet at the windfarmperformance.info site. Have a look at the data for 10 July. (Click on the “change date” button and select the date from the drop-down calendar.) Note that, for example, at around 10:00 am, the output of the Snowtown windfarm (the yellow curve) went from zero output to 90% of full output in less than 30 minutes. Remember also that, unlike other generators, windfarms are permitted to operate on a “must take” basis. That rapid change in input is a challenge for the local grid operation – another generator in the region has to be backed out, and quickly, because there are transmission constraints in the connections to the wider grid. The occurrence of this type of transient is not infrequent, and because wind farms behave in this way, there has been put in place an ongoing augmentation programme to the SA grid – paid for by the hapless customer – merely to deal with this problem.

    Examine the chart for July 5. Hopefully this chart puts to rest once and for all the geographic dispersion smoothing fallacy. Here is the occurrence of zero output for the entire windfarm fleet on the most geographically dispersed grid on the planet. The accompanying synoptic chart ought to demonstrate that it would not matter how many windfarms were then present on the grid, the output would still be minimal. Note from the accompanying electricity demand chart that simultaneously the demand at 28000 MW is not far below the midwinter demand peak. Again, dips and extended dips to near zero output from wind are not infrequent occurrences.

    It is these types of occurrences and outages that must be fully and properly addressed in any proposal to replace the present generation fleet. Incidentally, to address another contributor’s query, the performance of the single windfarm in Tasmania at Woolnorth / Cape Grimm is also shown at this site.

  40. I’ll leave the technicals to the boffins, but I think the reply would do well to run a comparison between the nuclear scenario and the Zero Carbon Australia scenario highlighting that the nuclear is much much cheaper… and cleaner.

  41. I’m finding curious gaps in the report. For example 3.5.3 Zero Emissions Steel Smelting discusses electrical heating for steel refining, not how to avoid coking coal in the making of primary pig iron. Coal without CCS is mentioned with solar co-gen for the Gladstone alumina (ie oxide) refinery, not the smelter for aluminium metal.

    Part 5 is supposed to discuss the rationale for a National Grid joining all States and Territories. They referred this section to consultants. I infer that the trans Nullarbor link is HVDC replicated with HVAC but the text appears to be omitted, as is any discussion of the need for redundant routes suggested upthread by Peter Lang. I think the SA-WA link could be justified on the grounds of lack of NIMBYs on the desert coast and the fact that WA will be the last place left with cheap gas. I didn’t see any discussion along those lines, only the effect of time zones.

  42. Some comments on some general items / “key assumptions” section numbers and quotes from the report are included :

    “1.7.1 The Future of ZCA2020

    The ZCA2020 project is an ongoing initiative. The current publication is Version 1.0… Future work includes not only the other ZCA2020 reports, but updated versions of the Stationary Energy Plan that take into account more in-depth analysis, updated figures on energy projections, modelling with improved data, and any new technological developments.”

    This statement pretty much admits that the work is incomplete, lacks a complete in-depth analysis or proper modeling.

    “2.2.1 Australian Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Australia currently generates the highest per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases amongst OECD countries. As shown by Figure 2.1, approximately two-thirds of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions result from fossil fuel combustion in the stationary energy and transport sectors.”

    This is the classic “magic playing field” technique by switching contexts as identified by Prof David MacKay. There has been a quick context change from “per capita emissions” to “total emissions”. However, the report then omits to say that Australia is currently at Number 16 in the top 25 emitters contributing 1.3% to total GHG emissions for 2007, for a quick look also see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

    However, the oft mentioned “polluter pays” principle requires one looks at cumulative emissions to ascertain the global guilt levels, as noted by Professor MacKay :

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c1/page_14.shtml

    If we take the polluter pays approach then “per capita” emissions dont tell us much, we need to look at “cumulative emissions” to find out who’s responsible. From page 32 in chapter 6 in the highly informative World Resources Institute’s “Navigating the Numbers” publication (available for free download at http://www.wri.org/publication/navigating-the-numbers ) Australia is ranked number 15 with a total of share of global guilt at 1.1% of world cumulative emissions from 1850-2002. The WRI document is worth a read as discusses policy implications of per-capita / total / cumulative emissions. ****Note : I am NOT saying here that we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to reduce our emissions, we should. Its just when I see the “magic playing field” technique in action I feel I have to comment.

    “2.5.4 Wind Power

    The wind resource in Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southern coasts, although there are also significant patches of inland resource. “

    This is clearly incorrect as a look at their Fig 2.23 will show. Wind resource is concentrated on the western coast, western inland, southern coast and southern inland. On the eastern side there is a tiny and patchy strip along the east coast (where all the prime real estate is…), increasing in the Far North Queensland coast. The extensive lack of wind resource inland on the eastern side is quite clear. Funnily enough the poor wind resource area of inland NSW is exactly where the State Gov’s “wind precincts” are drawn up.

  43. Cheers Peter – I more meant package it as part of the “collated document”. Don;t lose the chance to make the point that even if ZCA is 100% spot on it is still 3 times as expensive as nuclear.

  44. I just came across this by accident, when skipping through some pages in the Appendix

    Appendix 1 page 135 :

    “Domestic aviation and shipping is moved
    to electric rail. Domestic shipping freight task (excluding
    petroleum) is 86.8 billion t-km, primarily for ore. This is
    shifted to high-efficiency bulk rail, with the 0.02 kWh/t-km
    efficiency currently seen by ancillary rail in Australia (e.g.
    dedicated rail for iron ore transport in northern Western
    Australia). Domestic aviation is moved to high-speed rail,
    41.8 billion p-km at an efficiency of 0.07 kWh/p-km.”

    A question for everyone. Is the effect of this cost factored in or estimated anywhere in the report? Last I heard our rail network could hardly be called “high-speed”. If I am reading this correctly that means that by 2020 we will have no domestic air travel at all. By domestic do they mean non-commercial, or do they mean Australia wide ? Just exactly how long would it take on a high-speed train to get from say Sydney to Melbourne, or Melbourne to Perth, compared to flying?

  45. Neil

    I think Paul Miskelly has adequately addressed your comments on the 5 min data.

    re “I thought it was strange that no wind farms are sited in TAS when in fact this has some of the best wind resources ( and lots of back-up hdyro)”

    Look a bit closer at http://windfarmperformance.info

    you’ll see that Woolnorth is Tasmania’s current wind farm, which is doing a good job of pushing the endangered Tasmania Wedge-Tailed Eagle closer to extinction. In case you missed my comments on Open Thread 5 :

    http://www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=3071

    I highly recommend that link for anyone who wants to see the reality of windfarms and eagles. For Australia and the Wedge-Tail Eagle this is a major concern.

    Also see :

    Comment on Woolnorth eagle mortality by Stephen Debus, raptor specialist, PhD in zoology, University of New England :

    http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/eolica/bird_mortality/Yaloak_South_Debus_comments.pdf

  46. Peter Lang
    The proposed CST will have 17 hours energy storage (none have yet been built anywhere in the world I understand). When the wind isn’t blowing anywhere, the CST will have to provide all the power.
    That isnt what they are saying, firstly, the thermal storage has 17h storage capacity (730GWh), with about 1% loss per day so in periods of high wind there would be 730GWh carryover storage. Secondly they are claiming 15% of wind power is “firm”. When the Cooktown to Broome challenge is completed this can be tested to see if this is true. Thirdly, there is 5GW hydro and 15GW of biofuels ( backup of CSP) to carry through rare low wind periods when limited sunshine.
    I suspect that widespread low wind periods are due to large high pressure systems which have little cloud cover, but this needs to be tested. The reverse is usually true, high winds are due to low pressure systems and are associated with high cloud cover.

  47. Neil Howes,

    You are correct that these assumptions all need to be tested. But why are we still testing these assumptions when the data is in from around the world. The real wind farm out put data from around (not the modelling and statisticians wishes) are demonstrating that we get long periods of low output from wind farms. The same has been demonstrated repeatedly in Australia.

    The 15% firm power from wind is demonstrably ridiculous.

    Regarding the 17 hours storage at full power per power station, this won’t be much use when we have long lulls and overcast conditions at the same time. You assume that will seldom coincide, but that is just wishful thinking – bad engineering practice. The idea of existing hydro and biomass providing backup is also wishful thinking.

    Why wasn’t anyone senior and competent from the electrcity industry asked to review this. (By the way, SKM did not; they only reviewed the cost of transmission for the given power supply sites).

    I just can’t get past wondering why you and the other RE advocates would advocate a scheme like ZCA2020 instead of nuclear when it is clearly:

    1. is likely to be in the order of 10 times more costly (see previous) comment
    2. Less reliable
    3. Much less safe (see previous comment)

    Why didn’t BZE do a comparison with nuclear? Do they want to cut GHG emissions or promote an ideology?

  48. Paul Miskelly,
    Have a look at the data for 10 July. (Click on the “change date” button and select the date from the drop-down calendar.) Note that, for example, at around 10:00 am, the output of the Snowtown windfarm (the yellow curve) went from zero output to 90% of full output in less than 30 minutes.

    Here is the 5 min output of the 18 wind farms during the time on 10July , where Snowtown goes from 0 to 86MW(10am to 10.30am)
    10.00(1091MW), 10.05(1060MW), 10.10(1126MW), 10.15(1149MW), 10.20(1186MW), 10.25(1173MW), 10.301160MW).
    My comment is, so one wind farm my ramp up quickly, the overall output is only varying by a few % of output at 5min intervals.
    I think most would accept that all power stations may have rapid changes, thats why spinning reserve is maintained, in this case overall variation is less than the one sites output(86MW)

  49. I’ve moved and updated some of the comments I made on TCASE12 about the ZCA reports choice of wind turbine. More later on this.

    First I’ll quote ZCA Section 1.3 Guiding Principles, Assumptions and Project Methodology on page 4 :

    “Proven and reliable Solutions.

    A plan for transition to a zero emissions economy beginning now requires us to use the best of what is now available. There have been major advances in renewable energy technology over recent years, and it is possible to move to a zero emissions economy without waiting for further technologies to be developed. Consequently, the Plan considers only technological solutions that are already commercially available from existing companies which offer the technology at a multi-megawatt scale, and have moved beyond small-scale demonstration and pilot projects.“

    Interesting to note that the wind turbine model they have chosen for this study is the Enercon E-126. At 198m high it is just slightly taller than Canberra Black Mountain Tower, by 3m. Interesting they claim this is an “available now” tech. Go to the Enercon website :

    http://www.enercon.de/en/_home.htm

    It doesn’t yet appear in their “products and services” section. In the news section you’ll see it though :

    http://www.enercon.de/www/en/nachrichten.nsf/41657424de23a0b8c1256ed10041a39f/6230d2639aa384d9c125736e004679c2?OpenDocument

    Its interesting also to note that the tower is made from concrete, which is a pretty new idea for a wind turbine (more on this later).

    Wikipedia has a page too :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enercon_E-126

    Have a look at the link below to see the first wind farm “pilot” expected to use this new turbine. Its currently under construction, at a cost of 6.2 million Euro (@ $9million Aus) and expected to come on-line in July 2012 :

    http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/5588/belgium-inaugurates-wind-farm-with-largest-wind-turbines/

    The cost in that Belgium wind farm actually looks a little suspicious to me though, i.e. it looks artificially low. I suspect Enercon are also funding it. According to ZCA synopsis wind cost is $2.2million / MW (in 2011, falling to $1.25 million / MW by 2016), which would make 11 x 7MW = 77MW = 77 x $2.2million = $169.4million. Can someone double check my calculation and confirm or refute this $160million gap in the figures?

    The E-126 has clearly not had any completed real world field trials as yet. Probably would have been better to go with something like 2 to 3MW turbines. Of course that would at least double to triple the number of turbines required in ZCA plan….

    Having read a little more the Belgium “wind park” is a research project. The official web link is here :

    http://cordis.europa.eu/search/index.cfm?fuseaction=proj.document&PJ_LANG=EN&PJ_RCN=10603578&pid=0&q=0CB224C79C902825465DAAF7BCB202A0&type=sim

    —->

    “Objective: This action focuses on demonstrating the development of a cost-effective large scale high capacity wind park using new state-of-the-art multi megawatt turbines coupled with innovative technology used to stabilize the grid. A key objective of the 7-MW-WEC-by-11 project is to introduce a new power class of large-scale Wind Energy Converters, the 7MW WEC, onto the market which has the potential to significantly contribute to higher market penetration levels for wind electricity in Europe. The new 7MW WEC will be designed and demonstrated at a large scale: eleven such WECs will be demonstrated in a 77 MW wind park close to Estinnes (Belgium).

    The wind park will be the first large-scale on-shore wind park in Belgium and the first in the world that will consist of this mega turbine power class. Key challenges related to wind power will be addressed in this demonstration action ranging from technical issues (network stability and security), to financial aspects (cost effectiveness) to environmental issues (landscape pollution). First, the mega turbines will be developed and installed in series ; this is envisioned to significantly reduce costs and increase the market value. Second, new power electronics technology and improved wind forecasting will be used to stabilize the grid in the high capacity wind park.

    Improved forecasting is envisioned to furthermore improve the cost-effectiveness of the high capacity wind park (reduced imbalance costs, improved commercial value). Third, the 7MW turbines will be used to maximize wind energy capacity, while reducing landscape pollution and environmental impact: such a WEC generates more than double the energy in the same given area when compared to conventional 2MW turbines and requires the placement of fewer turbines when compared to conventionally used wind turbines. Lessons learned in developing the high capacity Estinnes wind park will be adapted to a different national context with a weak grid system, Cyprus. ”
    —-

    The Enercon E-126 turbine clearly isn’t commercially available, and wont be until some time after July 2012 when construction of the **“pilot project”** is finished. Then they need to see it running and evaluate its performance, surely a year running at least and then an analysis, that would take us up to the beginning of 2014 just to get an answer. OK then tooling up, manufacture and then construction can begin,and how long would that take??

    Addressing a comment by Neil Howes about whether it makes ay difference : It would most likely require twice to three times as many turbines of 2 to 3MW, so the land mass taken up would presumeably be larger by a similar amount. ZCA are specifiying a non-commercially available 7.5MW turbine.

    At present Enercon have built 5 (note my earlier post on TCASE 12 said 2, but the press release for the pilot plant says 5 constructed so far so I’ll go with that) of these turbines, and according to the press release they are currently operating at 6MW max not the 7.5MW expected (**note : this has recently been announced they now have it to 7.5MW). Note that the Enercon turbine they specify required a completely new crane to be built : “At 1600 tonne, the world’s largest crawler crane was developed and constructed specially for lifting the 127 m diameter rotor in one step.” according to the press release on the Belgian wind park.

    ** I stress again the fact that the Enercon E-126 7.5MW wind turbine is NOT commercially available**

    See Enercon’s website, in fact they are currently patting themselves on the back for just adding a 3MW turbine to their official portfolio (i.e. stuff that is commercially available), so they are a little way from churning out 7.5MW turbines :

    http://www.enercon.de/www/en/windblatt.nsf/129456b2760147c4c1256eee0027493a/7feb4c45419858c3c125770a00402c76?OpenDocument

    &

    also in the January 2010 volume of their Windblatt magazine :

    http://www.enercon.de/www/en/windblatt.nsf/129456b2760147c4c1256eee0027493a/9f5abf7aecb75217c12576c8003b918f?OpenDocument

  50. Peter Lang
    I just can’t get past wondering why you and the other RE advocates would advocate a scheme like ZCA2020 instead of nuclear when it is clearly:……
    I dont think I was advocating the ZCA2020 scheme, in fact CSP is clearly not a proven technology and appears to be expensive compared with wind ( or nuclear). I was just saying these are the assumptions.
    I agree that 730GWh of thermal storage is not going to last for than a few days even with 5GW hydro and 15GW biomass top-up.
    The 15% firm power from wind is demonstrably ridiculous.
    Without any data on wind farms in WA or QLD its rash to say that 15% firm power is ridiculous. The 18 sites cover an area5 million sq km. None the less the modeling should have at least included WA wind farm data.

  51. Neil,

    “My comment is, so one wind farm my ramp up quickly, the overall output is only varying by a few % of output at 5min intervals.”

    Doesn’t the rest of Paul’s post address that ? e.g. :

    “Remember also that, unlike other generators, windfarms are permitted to operate on a “must take” basis. That rapid change in input is a challenge for the local grid operation – another generator in the region has to be backed out, and quickly, because there are transmission constraints in the connections to the wider grid. The occurrence of this type of transient is not infrequent, and because wind farms behave in this way, there has been put in place an ongoing augmentation programme to the SA grid – paid for by the hapless customer – merely to deal with this problem.”

  52. Implementation Times – Page 37

    “The implementation time is the sum of licensing, site acquisition, planning, construction and connection to the grid. This depends on guidelines and the application process of the responsible agencies, the specific design, the location and many more aspects of this process. As a future prediction of these is ambiguous at best, the umbers in Table 2.3 are estimates arising from previous and current construction.” (there omission of n in numbers not mine)

    Table 2.3 Energy production timetable

    “Wind 2—5 years Implementation Time”

    This is a serious underestimation and implementation time in practice is 6 to 10 years, sometimes longer.

    Wind resource monitoring for the feasibility study is a minimum of 1 to 2 years.
    Wind resource monitoring is not done by simply looking at the BoM data for the nearest weather station. No financial backing is feasible without proper wind resource monitoring being done *at the exact site*
    This is clearly laid out in :

    Coppin PA, Ayotte KA, Steggel N. 2003. “Wind resource assessment in Australia – A planners guide.” Wind Energy Research Unit, CSIRO Land and Water. Available as a free pdf at :

    http://www.csiro.au/resources/pf16q.html

    (Staggeringly the ZCA references this very document on p77 ref 94 in relation to wind speeds). See p12 of that CSIRO book, they state 21 to 39 months (over 3 years!) in this early stage alone! No bank will loan the money otherwise.

    Windfarm projects also require lease agreements, environmental assessments, community consultation, planning application, public exhibition, developer comments, planning dept decision (much of which won’t be happening until the site is known to be feasible).

    ***A 2 year implementation time is therefore totally wrong.***

    Subtract at least 2 or 3 years from the planning approval date to get a generous ballpark for when the project started, even if construction started on the day approval (unlikely) this would be followed by construction time of 2 to 3 years minimum, particularly for the large projects suggested in this report. Examples of some “real world” time frames :

    Silverton 600 turbines, approval for 282 turbines granted on 24th May 2009 with construction required to begin within 5 years according to the approval document. First community newsletter went out on Oct 2007, the wind resource monitoring started much earlier. No planning application yet submitted for remaining portion of wind farm. Construction not yet started. Note they anticipate project completion in 2015, thats at least 7 years from start to finish.

    Taralga wind farm is 10 years down the track, construction has not even started. Feb07 – development approval, construction estimated to commence 2011, thats 4 years after approval. Then it still requires construction time to be added.

    Conroy’s Gap wind farm was approved 31-5-07 – construction still not begun.

    ZCA says the plan will kick in on Jan 1st 2011. So lets be generous and say the first wind monitoring tower gets put in place on the same day the plan was unveiled i.e. 14 July 2010. Lets be very generous and say that by 14 July 2011 one years data is in, the wind resource comes out ok, and the Environmental Assessment is ready to go on public exhibition at the Planning Dept. OK, the public then has 30 days to comment as a minimum, which takes us to 14 Aug 2011. Again I’ll be very generous : The proponent then will take a month or two, maybe longer to respond to comments, and then the planning dept will take another couple of months or so to come up with a decision (in reality it takes longer but lets be generous). We’re now up to the end of the 2011 year / beginning of 2012 before the decisions are in for even the most optimistic / generous timeframe.

    How long would it then take to build the first one? Example : Yass Valley wind farm (@150 turbines of 2 or 3MW capacity) is estimated to take 2 to 3 years to build. The 11 turbine Belgian “pilot” wind park using the new 7.5MW Enercon turbines is estimated to take 2 years to build. The first wind farm in the ZCA plan by my reckoning would be expected to come on-line at the beginning of 2014. Hmmm thats 3 years later than the ZCA estimate even being extremely generous. But really the wind resource monitoring should be 2 years, so add another year easily, thats 2015 before the first windfarms would be on-line, being incredibly generous by any stretch of the imagination.

    In the study they use grand statements like we need to “ramp up” production. But this is really a meaningless platitude, when clearly the “real world resource monitoring” not modelling has to take place, and that cannot be rushed, how can it?

  53. Neil

    I agree that 730GWh of thermal storage is not going to last for than a few days even with 5GW hydro and 15GW biomass top-up.

    I suggest that talking about 730GWh of storage is avoiding the issue by hiding it in averages and totals. Each power station has 17h storage at full power. There is not much spare capacity in their estimates. So in the situations where there is widespread cloud cover for several days, the 17h storage will not last long. Once gone, each individual power station stops generating. What then?

    You don’t need to explain that they will use hydro and biomass back-up and wind if it’s blowing. What we are discussing is where the power comes from in the worst case scenario. I don’t have much confidence they have seriously looked at the worst case scenario. In fact, all I’ve read looks like they have gone out of their way to be optimistic – like assuming 15% firm power for wind!!!

  54. Bryen,
    Addressing a comment by Neil Howes about whether it makes ay difference : It would most likely require twice to three times as many turbines of 2 to 3MW, so the land mass taken up would presumeably be larger by a similar amount. ZCA are specifiying a non-commercially available 7.5MW turbine.

    The east coast sites are in low population density mountain ranges ( where wind strength is higher) and there is a lot of coastline along the low population density coasts of WA and western SA. The West coast of TAS is also low population density.I dont see a shortage of land an issue except for the SE of SA and VIC coastlines. After all the US , with 15 times the population and similar land area has 35GW of wind capacity( 70% of what is proposed)!!!

  55. Neil,

    Do you know of any grid in the world with significant wind capacity that does not demonstrate periods of near-zero output like we experience in Australia.

    I am talking about real wind farm data, not modellers’ and statisticians’ wishful thinking.

  56. Actually, the details really don’t matter, because the ZCA2020 plan would seem to be:

    1. likely to be in the order of 10 times more costly than nuclear (see previous comment)
    2. Less reliable
    3. Much less safe (see previous comment)

    So we have to wonder: why did they not consider nuclear? This suggests a clear bias to push a particular ideology rather than try to find the best way to cut GHG emissions.

  57. personally bryen I wouldn’t touch per capita vs total emissions with a bargepole. We do have large per capita emissions, incontext, and we do need to reduce our own total emissions. TO suggest otherwise risks looking like a climate skeptic and a supporter of the do-nothing agenda.

  58. Neil,

    “The east coast sites are in low population density mountain ranges ( where wind strength is higher) and there is a lot of coastline along the low population density coasts of WA and western SA. The West coast of TAS is also low population density.I dont see a shortage of land an issue except for the SE of SA and VIC coastlines.”

    For the politicians and wind industry, low population density is really just another way of saying : a small percentage of lost votes from the rural minority voters. Do you also think that because not many “people” live there that nothing else does ? + How do you think the tourism industry will take it? Come and look at our 1000 turbine wind farm, its so much nicer than x’s 1000 turbine wind farm. Free earplugs supplied.

    Also as I pointed out earlier, re main wind resource as stated in ZCA, I’ll repeat it here :

    “2.5.4 Wind Power
    The wind resource in Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southern coasts, although there are also significant patches of inland resource. “

    This is clearly incorrect as a look at their Fig 2.23 will show. Wind resource is concentrated on the western coast, western inland, southern coast and southern inland. On the eastern side there is a tiny and patchy strip along the east coast (where all the prime real estate is…), increasing in the Far North Queensland coast. The extensive lack of wind resource inland on the eastern side is quite clear. Funnily enough the poor wind resource area of inland NSW is exactly where the State Gov’s “wind precincts” are drawn up.

    The point is, simplistic statements like “low population density” are meaningless. This isn’t a board game or a computer game. A full environmental assessment (EA) is required for “any” type of utility scale wind power station in Australia, and rightly so. Which is why it comes under “Electricity Generation” at the planning office, not agriculture or farming. These take in key “real world” issues such as effects / risks on :

    Biodiversity / Flora and Fauna
    Soil
    Water / Hydrology
    Visual Amenity
    Health Risks
    Noise Pollution
    Visual Amenity
    Property value
    Tourism
    Indigenous / Cultural Heritage
    Community Impacts
    Bushfire
    etc.

    The ZCA report does not address any of this area, at all. They just picked a few sites, without consulting any of those communities or looking at other EA issues, and said ok lets plonk 1000 turbines there. 2000MW per site see table 3.13 on p64.

    Remember the 7.5MW turbine is not commercially available, so we’re talking 1000 x 2MW turbines (@130 to 150m high) fitting in somehow with the “low population density” local communities, the landscape, and the flora and fauna of :

    Albany, Ceduna, Port Fairy, Crookwell, Stanthorpe, Esperance, Yongala, Ballarat, Orange, Atherton, Geraldton, Port Lincoln, Mt Gellibrand, Walcha, Collinsville, Bunbury, Cape Jaffa, Wonthaggi, Cooma, Georgetown, Streaky Bay, Silverton and Port Augusta

    You then wrote :

    “After all the US , with 15 times the population and similar land area has 35GW of wind capacity( 70% of what is proposed)!!!”

    Yes, and look what a bloody mess they’ve made of it! 14,400 abandoned wind turbines in California, health problems, noise pollution, wildlife impacts…etc etc.

    I suggest you have a read of :

    National Research Council of the National Academies. (2007) Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects; The National Academies Press: Washington, DC. Available on line at :

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11935

    It is important to note also that since this National Research Council report was published in 2007 there have been a number of important papers published on the further negative environmental impacts of wind energy. The report also does not cover human health effects in depth. However, it is a comprehensive and wide ranging report to 2007.

    One of the National Research Council authors, Rick Webb, has made the pre-publication version of this important report available for free on line at :

    http://www.vawind.org/Assets/NRC/NRC_Wind.htm

    Webb has also summarized his personal concerns regarding lack of emissions reductions in SO2 and NOx, and the cumulative impacts to wildlife, available on line :

    http://www.vawind.org/Assets/Docs/Perspective/Key_Points_About_Wind_Development.pdf

    and

    http://www.vawind.org/Assets/Docs/Wishful-Thinking.pdf

    Also I highly recommend this paper on “energy sprawl”

    McDonald RI, Fargione J, Kiesecker J, Miller WM, Powell J (2009) Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the
    United States of America. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006802

    Abstract

    “Concern over climate change has led the U.S. to consider a cap-and-trade system to regulate emissions. Here we illustrate the land-use impact to U.S. habitat types of new energy development resulting from different U.S. energy policies. We estimated the total new land area needed by 2030 to produce energy, under current law and under various cap-and-trade policies, and then partitioned the area impacted among habitat types with geospatial data on the feasibility of production. The land-use intensity of different energy production techniques varies over three orders of magnitude, from 1.9–2.8 km2/TW hr/yr for nuclear power to 788–1000 km2/TW hr/yr for biodiesel from soy. In all scenarios, temperate deciduous forests and temperate grasslands will be most impacted by future energy development, although the magnitude of impact by wind, biomass, and coal to different habitat types is policy-specific. Regardless of the existence or structure of a cap-and-trade bill, at least 206,000 km2 will be impacted without substantial increases in energy efficiency. …The possibility of widespread energy sprawl increases the need for energy conservation, appropriate siting, sustainable production practices, and compensatory mitigation offsets.”

    Specifically re wind :

    “Wind turbines have a similar figure of about 3–5% of their impact area affected by direct clearing while 95–97% of their impact area is from fragmenting
    habitats, species avoidance behavior, and issues of bird and bat mortality.

    I’m pretty sure the pdf is freely downloadable at :

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0006802

    its also downloadable freely here :

    http://www.windaction.org/documents/23151

    The ZCA report is severely lacking in this regard of examining the environmental impacts of its plan. It seems to re-enforce the incorrect perception that industrial / utility scale “renewable energy”, wind in particular, is environmentally benign and can simply be built without any environmental consequences at all.

  59. Mattb wrote :

    “…we do need to reduce our own total emissions. TO suggest otherwise risks looking like a climate skeptic and a supporter of the do-nothing agenda.”

    Did you read everything I wrote in that comment ? Here is a vital piece I wrote that you must have missed :

    “****Note : I am NOT saying here that we shouldn’t be doing everything we can to reduce our emissions, we should. Its just when I see the “magic playing field” technique in action I feel I have to comment.”

    I hope that clarifies things. btw : doing the wrong thing is …. ? just as bad… or worse ?

    Also, regarding per capita / total / cumulative emissions, I am quoting the writing of Prof David MacKay, author of “Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air” a highly recommended book. MacKay is not a climate change sceptic or a denier, or a do nothing advocate. Far from it he wants sanity, the numbers to add up, clarity of thinking and importantly : emissions of twaddle about sustainable energy to be reduced as well as GHG emissions.

  60. With regard to wind farms in the mountainous east coast regions, this piece reported by the ABC would seem pertinent:

    “A New South Wales Government report has recommended a 2,800-kilometre conservation corridor be established along Australia’s east coast.

    “The Great Eastern Ranges Corridor would stretch from just outside Melbourne to the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland.”

    Call for giant east coast green corridor

    The notion of wind farms anywhere near such a projected corridor, and especially anywhere near the existing national parks and state forests strikes me as a really bad idea. Human population density is not the only consideration.

  61. gallopingcamel observed that the ZCA Report indicated a current price of $0.20 per KWh for residential electricty and that the plan will increase this by about one third.
    Peter Lang then observed that he is only paying $0.1386 for residential electricity.

    Here in the West (WA) we are currently paying $0.2083/kWh as from July 1st, up from about 14 cents two years ago. The current Government has a user pays policy and is progresively withdrawning the $300M a year subsidy on power generation in this state. The 21 cents possibly reflects a truer cost of providing domestic power by fossil fuels in WA.

  62. Tom Bond,

    I agree. I jumped too quickly into my comment. I need to check the official web sites to see what is the retail price of electricity for different types of business and residential users in different localities. I haven’t done that yet. I have asked a couple of colleagues in Queensland what their residential rates are and they are as follows:

    Brisbane:
    normal: $0.1713/kWh
    off-peak: $0.0699/kWh
    supply: $19.71 per quarter

    Warwick:
    normal: $0.1884/kWh
    off-peak: $0.0769/kWh with a minimum of $14.28 per quarter
    supply: $20.49 per quarter

    Canberra:
    normal: $0.1386/kWh
    off-peak: $0.0880/kWh
    supply: $43.47 per quarter

    I’ll withdraw my comment about the $0.20/kWh.

  63. ZCA report page 66 Section 3.2.6 Cost of wind turbines

    The only reference / research in theis section of ZCA regarding wind turbine cost is the European Wind Energy Association and an article in Wind Energy News on China. Hardly an impartial source. The costs projections ZCA therefore put forward are somewhat rosy.

    Below are a few research notes of mine on a wind turbine economics paper appearing in the journal Energy Policy :

    Bolinger, M & Wiser, R (2009) “Wind Power Price Trends in the United States:
    Struggling to Remain Competitive in the Face of Strong Growth”, Energy Policy 37 pages 1061-1071

    Research paper discussing how rising costs in materials, energy used to manufacture wind turbines and currency weaknesses threaten to hamper future growth of wind energy. Long term historical trends demonstrate that recent cost pressures and rising costs impact on wind energy’s competitiveness. The paper details the boom-and-bust cycle that characterized the wind market from 1999 through to 2004, and discusses the uncertainty in the wind marketplace.

    The volatility and increasing costs of wind turbines are also discussed, as turbine prices have doubled on average since 2002, and in 2008 transaction prices have ranged fro US$900/kW to a high of US$1960/kW. Installed project costs are also rising steadily since 2004, in 2006 they were 35% higher and in 2008 they were 20% higher than 2007. Average project costs in 2008 have increased since the 2001 – 2004 period by 62%. These costs will have to be recovered through higher sales prices. The project prices would be even higher without access to state and federal incentives, and therefore the real cost of wind generation is much higher.

    Wind power projects being built from 2008 onwards are expected to continue to rise in cost, with expected costs in 2009 to be up to US$2250/kw. This research suggests that there is great uncertainty in wind power costs and prices.

    Below are some notes I made on wind energy in electricity markets from Energy Policy’s editorial, which also suggests a slightly less rosy picture than ZCA’s report suggests :

    Glachant, J (2009) “Large-scale Wind Power in Electricity Markets”, Energy Policy Editorial.

    Editorial piece on the unique future challenges faced by integrating large-scale wind generation such as limited dispatchability, variability in generation, difficulty in forecasting resource availability and geographic location of wind resources. The insertion of large-scale wind power will effect market participants and result in more volatile electricity prices. The long term impact requires careful study and extensive research is still needed in many areas.

    Newbery, D (2009), “Market Design for a Large Share of Wind Power”, Energy Policy Editorial.

    Editorial piece discussing the challenges that the electricity markets face with a large share of wind power. Volatile prices, coupled with low load factors for backup generation will likely lead to a compromised security of supply. Discusses some of the risks and uncertainty involved in wind generation.

  64. Updated from my comment on TCASE 12 re decommissioning.

    There are no decommissioning costs in the report. A quick estimation for BZE’s wind component :

    Assuming about US$100k per 1.5MW as detailed in this report here :

    http://www.windaction.org/documents/23450 (note the PDF of the actual report is available at this link)
    &
    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-decommissioning-costs-lessons-learned/

    48,000MW / 1.5MW = 32,000
    32,000 x US$100k =
    US$3,200,000,000

    at an exchange rate of 1 USD = 1.13384 AUD =

    AUS$3,628,282,204

    This ball park figure needs adding to the upfront build cost. This should be required as an A rated credit institution bond up front before construction commences. This was the finding of the USA Beech Ridge wind farm court case.

    Decommissioning is a serious Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) issue too, because decom “actually happening” is always factored in to the final LCA figure. If it doesn’t happen, i.e. because of lack of funds, the LCA and by defination the embodied energy payback time needs re-calculating. Remember there are 14,400 abandoned wind turbines after the California wind rush. How much junk will be left in oz after this big green rush / wash if there is no decom?

    How much left over all around the world too… ? To date all installed wind turbines do not have this decommissioning bond as far as I’m aware. What is the potential effect costwise to the wind industry and all those renewable energy superfunds / green investors in the so-called “renewable energy boom” in 10 – 20 years time ?

    Here’s a classic quote (Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 4th, September 2004) from Steve Buckle wind farm developer of Wind Power Pty (acquired by Origin in May 2009)

    “Wind Power is a shelf company with a paid-up capital of $100. Its four shareholder companies have a paid-up capital of $2500, $100, $2 and $2. To build the $220 million Bald Hills wind farm, superannuation funds will provide the equity. The guaranteed returns make everyone a winner – until the farm is decommissioned. Because one pressing question remains: who is going to clean up the defunct turbines in 20 years’ time?
    “Dunno,” says Steve Buckle. “We ultimately won’t be the owner of the wind farm. The super fund will end up being the owner.”

    Another great end quote by this wind farm developer in the same story :

    “Look, we’re playing this game with no rules. The government is making rules up as we go.” Marriott smiles uneasily, but Buckle laughs. “Thing is, wind power is good, right? It’s a very simple industry. Why make it complicated? Why is everyone so freaked out when wind farms are all over the world? What are they saying? That wind will not replace coal? Well, f…ing der!”

    For the full story see here :

    http://www.spacountryguardians.org.au/display.php?newpageid=78

    This is old news in Victoria, this was brought up in Parliament way back in 2004 :

    http://tex2.parliament.vic.gov.au/bin/texhtmlt?form=VicHansard.one&db=hansard91&pageno=1427&house=COUNCIL&speech=35861&tmpfile=/tmp/rand157300615825&query=trueand+(+data+contains+'HALL'+)%09and+(+members+contains+'HALL'+)%09and+(+hdate.hdate_3+=+2004+)and+house+contains+'COUNCIL'and+hdate+=+(17,+'November‘,+2004)%0Aand+speech+=+35861

    Hmmm, I’m glad I’m not investing in industrial scale greenwash.

    Back to the plot … Some more info relevant to wind farm decom :

    Brown, R (2009) “Appeal of Maine final order, Record Hill Wind LLC”, State of Maine Board of Environmental Protection re : Record Hill Wind Project. Available on line at :

    http://www.windaction.org/documents/23278

    Appeal filed by the Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury (“CCSR”) regarding the industrial scale turbine proposal in Roxbury, Maine. The full appeal includes testimony filed by sound expert, Richard James. Also includes objections to the Decommissioning Plan and makes note of the fact the fact the Deerfield ruling disallowed a deduction for scrap value, see pages 31 to 33 in part 2 of the PDF documents.

    Comfrey Wind Energy, LLC, (2007) “Docket Number: IP6630/WS-07-318
    Decommissioning – Estimated Cost and Funding Analysis for Comfrey Wind Energy – REVISED, page 31a”, Minnesota Dept. of Commerce. Energy Facility Permitting, Siting and Routing

    This decommissioning report submitted on 1st August 2007 is the estimated costs by Comfrey Wind Energy for fifteen 2.1MW wind turbines. Total estimated cost to dismantle & remove turbine per unit without scrap value is US$154,000. **No other infrastructure dismantling costs were submitted in this report.**

    State Of Vermont Public Service Board (2009) “Docket No. 7250, Section VI
    Decommissioning Fund”, pages 91-96. Available on line from Government of Vermont website at :
    http://www.state.vt.us/psb/orders/2009/files/7250finalorder.pdf

    Some excerpts from the ruling relating to decommissioning:

    Finding 331. ”The establishment of a fund to decommission the Project is necessary in the event the Project does not succeed, or to ensure its timely and permanent removal at the end of its useful life.”

    Finding 331. “Salvage value for scrap is vulnerable to market price volatility and thus should not be considered a reliable funding source for decommissioning the Project. The amount placed in the decommissioning fund should represent the full estimated costs of decommissioning without netting out estimated salvage value.”

  65. The Victoria Hansard link in my previous comment mentioning decommissioning seems to be to long. This is the details :

    Title ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY (WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT) BILL
    House COUNCIL
    Activity Second Reading
    Members HALL
    Date 17 November 2004
    Page 1427

    just do a web search on :

    steve buckle wind farm

    or

    stephen buckle wind farm

    you should get it on the first or second page

  66. ZCA report page 66 Section 3.2.6 “The total investment for the 48,000 MW of new wind capacity is estimated at $AU72 Billion. ”

    Estimated West Texas costs per turbine for a wind project started this year, $2.50 per rated watt with Chinese manufactured turbines.
    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2009/11/west-texas-wind-still-2500-per-kw.html

    Given no further inflation in costs this would give yield a cost of of $120 billion (USD) for the wind portion of the project, or about twice the ZCA estimate. Note that an assumption is that all Australian wind generators will be onshore.

    “The Plan provides 48,000 MWe of new installed turbine capacity running at an average annual capacity factor of 30%.”

    Lets see, A nuclear conventional plant with equivalent output would cost perhaps $5 to $8 per watt, which would appear at least competitive with the ZCA wind scheme. In addition the nuke would be dispatchable, and reliable during the Australian summer, and would produce as much electricity during the daytime as during the night. The choice for a utility should be a slam dunk.

    The wind cost issue raises a troubling question about the objectivity of the ZCA study. It would appear that wishful thinking has overridden prudence in estimates of wind costs. Wind costs are hardly the only issue where study assumptions might fall into the wishful thinking trap.

  67. With regard to the discussion about wind variability, there would need to be an enormous salt water lake constructed to store wind energy as pumped hydro energy for times when the wind is not sufficient and that stored energy would be drawn upon. The energy storage requirement could be enormous to achieve an acceptable LOLP. You ask what is an LOLP?

    This brings up another topic. The zero CO2 plan needs to have a loss of load probability (LOLP) study performed so that we can answer questions like the one about what we do to maintain system relaibility when the wind is not blowing or the sun not shining for an extended period of time. This can be modeled and a certain level of reliability achieved in the design. The only problem is that to get a high level of reliability is likely to add to the total system cost. That an LOLP study has not been performed is an important shortcoming of the zero CO2 plan.

  68. ZCA is equally optimistic about solar costs, as I have already documented. I have noted two assumptions that are particularly troubling. The first is that the cost estimate for the indexed facility has been withdrawn, and the constructor currently has no cost estimate in place. Thus ZCA has absolutely no real world basis for its ST cost estimates.

    The second major flaw is that the studies upon which it bases its economies of scale estimates have not been tested by recent trends in ST costs, and thus their validity is questionable. In addition, questions must be raised about the cost of materials and labor, and whether a learning curve will compensate for observed inflationary trends in large engineering projects.

    Given the uncertainties a cost of $500 billion USDs, would not seem to be an unreasonable estimate for the 42.5 GW ST project, and even higher costs cannot be excluded.

    Thus the total cost of the project without grid upgrade could run to something close to $650 billion. This figure might be high, because we lack an index project for gaging ST costs, and evidence is incomplete on future ST cost trends. The $650 billion figure might also be low.

  69. Gene Preston,

    Thank you for the point about LOLP. That is a really clear, succinct way to express the problem. It expresses much better than I did my concern that there is nowhere near enough storage capacity or transmission capacity in the ZCA2020 system to supply the power we demand through long periods of overcast and low wind conditions.

    Charles Barton,

    Thank you for this. I had misunderstood your original comment. I thought you meant that SCA2020 had withdrawn their cost estimates whereas you were saying that the plant that ZCA used as the basis of its cost estimates has withdrawn its cost estimates –

    Thus ZCA has absolutely no real world basis for its ST cost estimates.

    You also say:

    Given the uncertainties a cost of $500 billion USDs, would not seem to be an unreasonable estimate for the 42.5 GW ST project, and even higher costs cannot be excluded.

    Can you clarify for me what the ‘capacity’ for the ‘index plant’ refers to. Is it with 17 hours of storage? What is its expected availability at times of peak demand? What is its expected availability after the longest possible period of overcast conditions? Are there any figures available on these design criteria?

  70. ZCA 2020 glosses over all the issues that will arise with funding and legislation. It says it will cost Australians $8 per week. Presumably it will also require immediate prohibition of all coal, oil and gas. There is no transition mechanism such as a phased carbon tax. The government is licking its lips over getting another $10bn from the miners so imagine the political drama needed to find nearly $40 bn a year for 10 years.

    Other mandates such as building retrofits and prescribed forms of heating won’t be easy. Converting high priced stoves and water heaters is in a vastly different league to banning incandescent light bulbs. It would need expensive incentive schemes. There is a brief mention of the feed-in tariff (grrr) but no mention of raising general taxes. This lack of political realism suggests the report is intended as a kind of religious text that shows the way to true believers. Those believers have no real program to wean ourselves off coal, just a feeble ‘it’s all in the report’. But it isn’t.

  71. My short summary of where we are at.

    The ZCZ2020 proposal fails on these criteria (each one of which would fail the project);

    1. LOLP – the analysis does not include a Loss of Load Probability analysis. If it did do so, it would certainly not meet the AEMO requirements. Far more energy storage, generating capacity and transmission capacity would be required, or fossil fuel back up generation capacity.

    2. Build rate – the build rate is unachievable. The approvals process is far longer than allowed for in the ZCA2020 proposal and no commercial solar thermal power stations of the type proposed have been constructed anywhere in the world

    3. Water – the quantities of water required to make the concrete during construction and for washing the solar reflectors during operation for the life of the plant will be unavailable or hugely expensive

    4. Costs – the capital cost is likely to be at least double the ZCA2020 estimate and probably much more. The operating costs will also be very high – people required to wash the reflectors, living costs and travelling time, in remote areas, etc.

    5. Safety – the safety issues created by the proposed ZCA2020 system will sink this project on its own. The safety of workers constructing these structures throughout remote areas and the ongoing health and safety of the operators (long travelling distances in the outback and cleaning glass surfaces on high structures) will result in many accidents. Furthermore, the huge amount of money required for this system (when compared with the nuclear alternative), will mean less funding for public health.

  72. Just a few clarifications on technicalities.

    The 17 hour thermal storage is only for provision of electricity overnight (P 44). In winter one imagines this will be fully utilised with 24 hour operation. In summer with 9 hours of bright sunlight there will be some left over in the morning. Any backup for wind or extended cloudy cover relies purely on hydro and biomass.

    It is assumed that half the electricity from wind will be firm (P 44). This is a capacity credit of 50%! The highest capacity credit I have ever seen is 20% in Minnesota (IEA Wind 25 study).

    Being forced to move from 7.5 MW wind turbines back to more commercially realistic (given the time frame) 3 MW would not mean using twice as much land. Typically turbines are spaced at least five times the diameter of the blades to minimise the impact on each other of wind-shadows. So it is likely that 7.5 MW turbines will need to be spaced about twice as far apart as 3 MW (ignoring the increased wind with height which is not massive).

  73. Ignore my comment about wind capacity credit above. They are actually saying 50% of the electricity is firm not capacity. That is a capacity credit of 15.5%. Still nearly twice AEMO’s allocation for SA.

  74. John Newlands,

    There is no transition mechanism such as a phased carbon tax.

    This lack of political realism suggests the report is intended as a kind of religious text that shows the way to true believers.

    Hmmm. “phased carbon tax” and “ religious text that shows the way to true believers.” That resonates!

    John, how can a carbon tax have any serious impact on CO2 emissions from electricity generation when nuclear is banned? Not only is it banned, but even if it was lifted in the current political climate there would be so many imposts we’d never get started. All the approval processes for renewables are being waved, truncated, shortened, facilitated by government, while the opposite will be the case for nuclear – until we can get past the era of pro-renewables, anti-nuclear religious-like zealotry. There is no point imposing a carbon tax until we get a level playing field. Doing so would just ruin our economy. And the money collected would be used for pork-barelling (handing out to swing voters in marginal electorates).

  75. Page 17 of the exec summary has the following:

    “Better-than-Baseload” Electricity Generation
    Storing the sun’s energy as heat in the form of hot molten
    salt allows CST plants to provide power that is “better-thanbaseload”.
    Similar to a hydroelectricity dam, CST plants
    with heat storage can dispatch electricity as needed at very
    short notice. This is achieved by using the heat from the
    stored molten salt to produce steam as necessary.

    How is this possible? Surely a steam generator will need just as long to get up to operational temperature and output regardless of the heat source used. Why do they believe that a molten salt heat source is any better at load following than a nuclear plant or a coal plant?

  76. Martin Nicholson:

    That is a capacity credit of 15.5%. Still nearly twice AEMO’s allocation for SA.

    Dont you mean “more than five times AEMO’s allocation for SA”?

    I understand AEMO’s capacity credit for wind power in SA is 3%.

    In South Australia, for
    example, a figure of 3 per cent of installed wind
    capacity is used to represent the contribution to overall
    generation supply at times of peak demand

    Bottom of p68 here: http://www.aer.gov.au/content/item.phtml?itemId=732297&nodeId=797fa2c37535f919f67fa34dc4970e13&fn=Chapter%201%20%20Electricity%20generation.pdf

  77. Peter, Appendix 3 States: “The cost of a molten salt power tower project today is referenced to the cost of SolarReserve’s Tonopah project in Nevada. This will produce 480,000 GWh/year of electricity7, and will cost over U.S.$700 million8.”

    A googled the SolarReserve’s Tonopah project and found a recent statement that the the builders did not include costs. Further, it is clear that the project has undergone alterations because it is now required to use dry cooling. There is a 10% efficiency penalty attached to the switch from wert cooling, but beyond that there are probably added costs.

    I assume that the $700 million figure is no longer current, because no recent press report refers to it, or any other cost estimate.

  78. Peter, I had read that statement also. I’m not sure it means the same as capacity credit. The 3% is limited to peak times. It presumably could be higher outside peak when the risks to reliability are less. This has become an issue now that wind can be treated as semi-scheduled.

    In the last report produced by NEMMCO before they became AEMO last year they clearly stated that the available capacity from scheduled wind generation in South Australia is calculated at 8% of the installed capacity.

    http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/040-0053.pdf

    Page 8

  79. Peter, the SolarReserve’s Tonopah project in Nevada capasity factor was computed by dividing its reported annual output by its potential annual output. This comes to a capacity factor of 55%. In addition the builder stated that dry cooling would impose a 10% efficiency penalty on the facility. That brings facility capacity factor down to around 50%.

  80. Martin Nicholson,

    The 17 hour thermal storage is only for provision of electricity overnight (P 44). In winter one imagines this will be fully utilised with 24 hour operation. In summer with 9 hours of bright sunlight there will be some left over in the morning. Any backup for wind or extended cloudy cover relies purely on hydro and biomass.

    I fear this statement may mislead many viewers here. It massively downplays the very real and very large problem of the amount of generating capacity, storage capacity and transmission capacity needed to provide reliable power through extended overcast periods – or after massive dust storms across nearly all of SE Australia as occurred about a year ago. Such would cover the reflectors with dust, much of it stuck on as it comes down with rain.

    The scale of the overbuild of generating capacity, storage capacity and transmission capacity is massive to get us through the extended periods of very low capacity factors for the generation component. At Queanbeyan solar farm, the lowest capacity factors were:

    0.75% for 1 day
    1.56% for 3 days
    4.33% for 5 days
    5.67% for 10 days

    At a capacity factor of 1% the generating capacity must be 100 times the average output. If we have just one day of storage, as you suggest, then the solar field output needs to be 100 times the power that must be supplied. If we want less solar field, we need more storage.

    The minimum capacity factors (for the generating component) will certainly be somewhat higher at the locations ZCA2020 has selected for the CST power stations, but how much higher? What is the minimum capacity factor for 1 day, or for whatever period the storage will cover? What is the basis for their estimate of the minimum CF? Is it highly optimistic as so many of the other assumptions seem to be? The data from Queanbeyan solar farm is real data and is consistent with other real data recorded from PV arrays at other sites. Being real data I’d place more reliance on it than estimates from solar insolation studies by the solar power industry and advocates.

    I acknowledge that the Queanbeyan solar farm is a fixed PV array and the CST is quite a different set up. I also acknowledge that the proposed CST sites are further inland. But we still need to understand how their estimates of minimum capacity factor were derived.

    Martin, I don’t think we should be trying to downplay this aspect. BZE and the many other RE advocates (with their rose coloured glasses) are already doing that.

  81. Just to emphasise, the wind power cannot be relied upon to provide virtually any power. Look at the chart for May here:
    http://windfarmperformance.info/documents/analysis/monthly/aemo_wind_201005_hhour.pdf

    Notice the wind power capacity factor from midday on 16 May to midday on 20 May. It averages about 3% for that period. This is the combined capacity factor for all 16 wind farms spread across an area of 1200 km (east-west) by 800 km (north-south). When this happens, virtually all the power must come from the CST power stations. Our hydro capacity would be totally irrelevant to the ZCA2020 proposal in such as situation of sustained low wind. So we might as well forget the wind as a serious contributor. Adding WA just means a really high cost transmission capacity for occasional usage.

    So, wind can provide some energy (when it feels like it), but I wonder why we’d bother with wind since we need the CST capacity anyway (forget the nonsense about hydro and biomas generation – that’s just a distraction. Gas would provide the back up role if we do not have sufficient CST capacity.)

    It seems to me, looking at it very simply, that the ZCA proposal bolis down to powering Australia with solar thermal – a technology that hasn’t been demonstrated yet.

  82. Peter Lang
    The minimum capacity factors (for the generating component) will certainly be somewhat higher at the locations ZCA2020 has selected for the CST power stations, but how much higher?
    I am sure you realise the minimum capacity factor is deternined by the lowest winter insolation at specific sites and the probablity that all or 11/12 , or 10/12 etc locations are experiencing those low days at one particular time.
    The lowest capacity factor of one CSP or one wind farm ( or for that mater one coal fired or nuclear plant) is going to be zero, whats important is the probablity that most or a specific % will be zero at one time.

    For both solar and wind the key is the geographic area, the 18 wind farms connected to NEM grid cover about 500,000 sq km( although the grid is much larger). The ZCA 2020 plan has CSP and wind farms spaning most of Australia( 8,000,000 sq km). We also need to know if low wind events are correlated with low cloud cover to know if CSP and wind are complementary.
    It would have been sensible for the ZCA 2020 plan to use mation wide data for modeling.
    The other issue for hydro back-up is that the ZCA plan doesnt consider TAS hydro or any wind farms located in TAS.

  83. Neil,

    Back on TCASE12 thread you said :

    “To build 50GW wind capacity would require installation rates X10 higher than over last few years or about what China installed last year.”

    and in the ZCA report the Gansu Province wind farm is mentioned, along with China’s wind installations. Chinese wind farm’s are not without controversy, something that is omitted from the ZCA report.

    e.g. :

    example quotes from the articles are included

    http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=2139

    “But as usual there are problems. The national transmission power grid doesn’t have sufficient back up capacity to manage the intermittency of the wind. “Because wind energy is unstable, it is a pollutant and affects the safety of the power grid. The capacity of the transmission power grid is limited, not all of the wind power can be transmitted whenever a wind farm is built,” said Hu Xueha, the deputy chief engineer of China’s Power Grid Research Institute. Many wind farms are being built even though adequate transmission isn’t available. In January 2008 alone, some 300 gigawatt-hours of electricity was wasted due to insufficient transmission capacity. According to recent data from the China Power Union, only 72% (8.94 GW) of China’s total wind power capacity was connected to the grid. The result: a lot of wind turbines have been “sun bathing” — as the Chinese call it.”

    “China’s problems with adequate transmission and back-up generation capacity are not unique. Similar problems are occurring in the US. Thus, while wind appears to be booming, it take some time – maybe a long time – before China’s wind sector becomes a financially sound business. ”

    The following is interesting too, about the issues of coal and wind in China :

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125409730711245037.html

    “China will need to add a substantial amount of coal-fired power capacity by 2020 in line with its expanding economy, and the idea is to bring some of the capacity earlier than necessary in order to facilitate the wind-power transmission,” said Shi Pengfei, vice president of the Chinese Wind Power Association.”

    + more less rosy reports on China and wind :

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/14/wind-power-china-desert

    “Shi Pengfei, deputy chair of the China Wind Energy Association, is blunt: “It isn’t that wind power is showing signs of over-heating. It has already overheated.” Stimulated by policy thrust, government interests and business investment – and with the emerging possibility of turbine manufacturing outstripping demand – the country faces the knotty task of macro-managing the wind industry.”

    “Shi Pengfei of the China Wind Energy Association has said in the past that the State Grid needs to spend a lot of money preparing the network for wind power, because of its low-output and irregular nature. But there is no government subsidy for this and the State Grid is not enthusiastic.”

    “But this is only one of the wind sector’s problems. Data from the China Electricity Council shows that less than three quarters of China’s 12.21 gigawatts of wind-power capacity was feeding into the grid last year, meaning that 28% of turbines were, for whatever reason, lying idle. This bottleneck is unlikely to be resolved in the near future.”

    “Guazhou’s Beidaqiao wind farm has lost 17.7 million yuan (US$2.6 million) over two years of operation. “The main reason is that grid capacity is inadequate and we have no choice but to limit output,” says manager Xu Qinghui. Only 50% to 60% of the 150 megawatts generated can normally be delivered to the grid, and at times as little as 30%.”

    ———

    The additional building of the windfarms in the ZCA report clearly doesn’t address the need to build back up fossil fuel peaking gas plants in the transition period, and neither is the effect of ramping these gas plants or their consequent emissions due to wind discussed.

  84. Neil Howes,

    I am sure you realise the minimum capacity factor is determined by the lowest winter insolation at specific sites and the probability that all or 11/12 , or 10/12 etc locations are experiencing those low days at one particular time.
    The lowest capacity factor of one CSP or one wind farm ( or for that mater one coal fired or nuclear plant) is going to be zero, whats important is the probability that most or a specific % will be zero at one time.

    Yes, I do realise that is what ZCA has done.

    Likewise, I am sure you realise, that we can have most of SE Australia covered by cloud at the same time and these conditions can last for days (I provided a link to a time lapse sequence of satellite photos showing the conditions on one of my previous posts).

    If the capacity factor of the generators was cut by half we’d need much more storage and/or we’d have to double the generating capacity of all the generators and all the trunk transmission lines. From the figures in the report it is clear they have not done this.

    We’ve been over the wind issue many times and are just repeating a position. I say it can’t be relied on to provide virtually any dependable power. So it is just providing energy, but effectively no firm capacity. Please show me actual wind farm output data, for the worst case conditions, from Australia and other grids around the world, that demonstrate I am wrong.

    It the absence of data to prove what you are saying, the sensible approach is to take a cautious approach, not the highly optimistic view of the wind power enthusiasts.

    Neil, if you are not interested in costs, aren’t’ all your arguments irrelevant? How can this be discussed rationally if you don’t care about costs?

  85. A search in the ZCA report on China yields 35 hits, and Chinese yields 20 hits. Usually along with comments such as these on page 4 of ZCA report :

    “As these and other countries take actions which reduce their reliance on coal, …” etc. etc.

    So when comparing build speed / costs with China and assuming that these will go down in Australia, its seems wise to look at the reasons. Some more on the China’s speedy and low price of wind installations.

    A quote from :

    http://www.elementscap.com/en/newscontent.asp?unid=122&menuid=5

    “But Beijing’s adoption of a “lowest power price wins” tendering policy a few years ago has resulted in overly aggressive bidding by state-owned power generation companies eager to meet their renewable energy capacity targets even at the expense of prospective losses on such projects.

    This has raised concerns that project developers would be forced to cut corners and make sacrifices on equipment quality.

    “The quality of wind turbines are a concern, particularly when more and more projects are built in Inner Mongolia or Gansu where there is extreme weather. There has been little track record on how well domestic turbines will stand extreme weather,” said Mr Chan, a former managing director of renewable energy at Hong Kong utility CLP Holdings (SEHK: 0002).

    Beijing’s policy has driven many private companies to negotiate directly with local governments. Many have been “squatting” on “exclusive rights” to develop projects in what they think are the best sites.

    Such a mad rush by developers to build projects with local governments has made it hard for the power distributors to project future demand for grid infrastructure.

    Disorderly development has meant grid companies cannot plan properly for grid construction, resulting in wasted grid capacity in some areas and shortages in others.”

    &

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/14/wind-power-china-desert

    “Generally, costs are lower for larger-scale farms and there are big subsidies for purchasing equipment. As for land, local governments “virtually give it away” for the sake of attracting investment. For capital-rich, state-owned power firms, this means that they can make a profit if the government provides larger subsidies for wind-power tariffs, and this has led corporations to operate at a loss while waiting for government subsidies to bring in a profit.”

  86. We’ve gone mad. Rationality is being overrun by lunacy.

    We are rolling out proposals and government endorsements for renewable energy but none are being compared with the nuclear alternative.

    Today, the Premier of South Australia announced this:
    http://www.ministers.sa.gov.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1285

    Two days ago we had the “Zero Carbon Australia by 2020″ report which proposes how Australia could be powered by renewable energy by 2020.

    And just before that the “Environment Victoria” report recommending that Hazelwood Power Station be replaced with wind farms and gas backup.

    We have incompetent, irrational governments in almost every state and territory. What a mess we are in.

    Where is a responsible government to do the proper economic and cost benefit analyses?

  87. A couple of years ago Rann told us that geothermal was the Next Big Thing. I believe the driving force behind wind expansion is the sale of RECs to coal fired generators under the RET. That is; get used to buying 45m RECs a year by 2020 or face penalties. This kind of enforcement mechanism is not raised in the ZCA report.

    The RET effect will be that power bills increase for no reduction in emissions. The cost increase comes from the compulsory purchase of RECs, perhaps over $2bn on current prices. The lack of emissions reduction comes about in two ways; the need for gas backup for wind and the low probability that wind/gas will displace any coal burning.

    Now there is talk of a new plan to pay outback farmers if their cows fart less, or something. And we thought the ETS was bad. I think the public senses that ZCA lacks realism. The next big task will be to convince the public that expensive subsidies for renewables have any appreciable effect on emissions.

  88. The ZCA report does not mention anything about water use for wind farm construction. Pretty surprising as they have someone from wind farm company Wind Prospect which according to their website (http://www.windprospect.com/) :

    “Wind Prospect operates globally in all aspects of renewable energy development, construction, operation and advisory services. We have developed and engineered wind-energy projects around the world since building the UK’s second wind farm in 1992.”

    Water use is a required part of any windfarm environmental assessment (EA) document for the planning application. Below is an example for Yass Valley WF by developer Epuron/Origin. I dont have time to examine other EA’s.

    Water use for constructing 182 turbines is estimated by Epuron at 19.44ML over 2 years (no estimate is given for water requirements during decommissioning). Might not sound like a lot if it is simplistically compared with national consumption. However, the reason it is required in the EA is because it has to come from “local” resources. See the 13 pages, 193 to 206, in the Yass Valley windfarm EA which cover this issue. In 2007 Yass Valley Council stated that Yass Dam was under pressure due to drought and population growth.

    This is not uncommon in rural areas, where ZCA windfarms are suggested to be located. In regard to bore water Yass Valley council have stated that this is suitable for “limited industrial uses”. In 2004 an embargo was placed on new groundwater extraction licenses due to concerns that the groundwater in the Yass catchment was unsustainable.

    One option suggested by Epuron is that they buy water from existing licensed bore users, i.e. farmers, which would then likely impact their farming operations (irrigation or stock water). Although the sellers of the water would be financially compensated, the crops or livestock they would normally be producing would be reduced.

    Additionally the reasons that hydrology/water use during construction AND decommissioning needs to be considered is its impact on groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDE). There are 3 main types within the entire Murrumbidgee catchment, two of which are present within the footprint of Yass Valley windfarm.

    Given that the ZCA report requires that around 1000x2MW turbines are constructed at each windfarm location, I would expect an estimation of the current water situations.

    A quick estimate of the total water use for constructing the 1000 turbine windfarms, based on the Yass Valley WF using a rough calculation assumption of 200 turbines = 20ML :

    Roughly 100ML per ZCA windfarm (NOT including water use for turbine manufacture or windfarm decommissioning).

    To get a handle on this number, Yass Dam at the time of the EA being submitted by Epuron contained 850ML and Level 1 permanent water restrictions were in place.

    I dont have time to look at Yass Dam’s current water availability or at the 23 wind farm sites suggested by the ZCA , but a good place to start would be the Crookwell III windfarm planning application for 25 to 35 turbines :

    http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/page/project-sectors/transport–communications–energy—water/generation-of-electricity-or-heat-or-co-generation/?action=view_job&job_id=3722

    or the EA for Crookwell II windfarm (if you can find the documentation!), as Crookwell is one of the locations suggested by ZCA.

    Another place to look and get a consensus are the other EA’s for current windfarm apps on exhibition, for NSW these are at :

    http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/page/project-sectors/transport–communications–energy—water/generation-of-electricity-or-heat-or-co-generation/

    As a final note, should the 7.5MW turbines end up being used when they become commercially available in the future, information would be required for the amount of concrete required. This information is partially available. For some reason though ZCA have not accessed two documents they reference earlier (p77 ref’s 83 & 86), which contains at least some of this information they require, and these are freely available on Enercon’s website, for which the ZCA report even provide links in the references, strange :

    110m3 of concrete for tower + unspecified amount of steel for top section of tower
    64 x 56cm thick piles measuring an average of 25m (additional requirement for base construction in silty banks)
    1500m3 concrete for foundation
    180t of reinforcing steel for foundation
    Hub and inner blade segments 340t (steel?)
    Nacelle hood is made from Aluminium (a first, but unknown quantity of material)

    All other material quantities for any other components in the Enercon E-126 turbine remain unknown.

    The water quantities just described are obviously not “huge” compared to national useages, but they clearly need to be estimated and compared to what is currently deemed to be sustainable in the catchment areas where the ZCA windfarms are located.

    This of course would be only one of many other items needing consideration in any windfarm EA and feasibility study which generally include at least :

    Biodiversity / Flora and Fauna
    Soil
    Water / Hydrology
    Visual Amenity
    Health Risks
    Noise Pollution
    Property value
    Tourism
    Indigenous / Cultural Heritage
    Community Impacts
    Bushfire
    Aviation Safety

    The ZCA report does not address any of these areas at all. Without this knowledge, the suitability of the windfarm locations suggested by ZCA remain pure speculation based on wind resource “estimations” alone.

  89. John Newlands,

    Good comment.

    Do you have something that has given you this idea:

    I think the public senses that ZCA lacks realism.

    I hope you are correct, but I am getting the opposite impression. I am fearing a headlong rush to renewables for political expediency, because it is popular with the electorate and because it means no unpopular action has to be taken (such as mentioning nuclear as being part of the solution).

    I am feeling very frustrated. It seems the election is about to be called, perhaps tomorrow, and again we delay real action. Perhaps Julia has something she will mention during the election campaign, but I am not holding my breath. In fact I fear whatever she does announce will be more along the lines of the ZCA2020 proposal, Mike Rann’s announcement today and the Environment Victoria proposal for replacing Hazelwood. There is momentum for these sorts of announcements and not a sniff of anything pro-nuclear.

  90. Yes Peter Lang, we’ve well and truly gone mad. I can’t believe the stupidity of our SA government. I live on Eyre Peninsula. Most times when I pass Cathedral Rocks, the Cleve Hills and in the mid north at Snowtown and Burra the useless windmills aren’t working.That was on 10 out of 12 passings. Goodness knows how much we’ve wasted on that report.Words fail me. However, I’ve just sent a copy of my letter to Julia Gillard to Paul Holloway [minister for lots of things in the SA govt.]. He might take note but I’m not holding my breath.

  91. Here’s a kind of hybrid calculation mixing ZCA and BAU figures. Based on 4% annual growth we might expect Australia’s electricity demand to be 400 Twh by 2020. However ZCA have conveniently factored in electric transport and efficiency though they appear to omit the growing need for urban desalination. On p.44 they estimate 325 Twh by 2020. The RET is 45 Twh by 2020 including biofuels though it seems likely they will split the electrical target between residential and commercial. However suppose the 2020 generation mix is a lean and mean 325 Twh = 45 renewable + 280 nonrenewable.

    The second figure for nonrenewable is probably close to the current figure for coal and gas fired generation. I recall Peter Lang saying the sector produces some 200 Mt of CO2. Therefore expect no reduction up to 2020. However using the REC it may cost up to 45m X $40 = $1.8bn more in raised power bills. I’d liken it to taking jelly beans for a headache; if it doesn’t solve the problem why bother?

    Last night’s TV clip on my neighbour’s mini hydro is here.

  92. Peter, I didn’t intend my comment on thermal storage to suggest that it was in any way adequate or that the hydro and biomass support will be in any way adequate.

    Any practical solution using CST will involve gas backup. I doubt any commercial CST plant will be built without it. Nor will any commercial CST plants make money supplying baseload power. It won’t deliver sufficient return to justify the additional investment for the over extended solar field and thermal storage. If I am right then the ZCA proposal is dead in the water (or desert).

    I know it’s a bit off topic for analysis of ZCA 2020 but if CST is ever built commercially (not relying on government subsidy) it will be as intermediate load plants supplying above baseload supply from say 7am to 4 pm on days of minimal cloud. Gas will still be needed for the shoulder periods, particularly in winter, along with perhaps 2-3 hours thermal storage. A high carbon cost and high gas price will still be needed to make it financially attractive. But both of these are probable at some stage so I wouldn’t rule out CST at some stage – but never for nightime baseload.

  93. I am planning to write some comments on the ZCA2020 cost estimate today. However, before I do, I want to comment on a few loose ends.

    There are three technical points that I want to address before I get onto the costs; one relates to the discussion upthread with Martin Nicholson and two with Neil Howes on this and other threads.

    Martin Nicholson:

    Peter, I had read that statement also. I’m not sure it means the same as capacity credit. The 3% is limited to peak times. It presumably could be higher outside peak when the risks to reliability are less. This has become an issue now that wind can be treated as semi-scheduled.

    The ZCA2020 report and AEMO are using the term “Firm Power” in the same way.

    ZCA2020 report, page 138:

    15% Of wind capacity that is reliable & firm (i.e. ‘baseload wind’)
    7,500 MWe Wind capacity reliable at peak times

    AER, page 68: http://www.aer.gov.au/content/item.phtml?itemId=732297&nodeId=797fa2c37535f919f67fa34dc4970e13&fn=Chapter%201%20%20Electricity%20generation.pdf

    It indicates the amount of capacity that AEMO considers would
    be needed to maintain reliability, given projected demand. … In South Australia, for example, a figure of 3 per cent of installed wind capacity is used to represent the contribution to overall generation supply at times of peak demand

    So the ZCA report is assuming the firm capacity of wind is five times higher than is assumed for South Australia.

    These terms are defined in the same way here:
    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/the-capacity-credit-of-wind-power/

    “wind capacity penetration” is defined as the ratio of installed wind power capacity to peak load for a given region

    It should also be noted that “Capacity Credit” decreases as the penetration of wind capacity increases, as described here:
    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/the-capacity-credit-of-wind-power/
    Figure 1 shows that Germany allows a capacity credit of 8% for the present case where wind capacity penetration is 16.5%. At 30% capacity penetration, the capacity credit would be 5%. (This is what the wind industry advocates)

    So the ZCA2020 assumption of 15% capacity credit at 50% capacity penetration seems very optimistic and not consistent with even what the wind farm advocates are recommending internationally.

    This seems to be another example of the ZCA2020 Report’s optimism.

  94. Martin Nicholson

    Thank you for your comment @ 17 July 2010 at 9.41

    I agree with all you say here, but do not like the seemed advocacy to encourage governments to artificially inflate the price on carbon (for electricity generation) before we have a level playing field for all clean electricity generators. If we raise the cost of carbon for electricity before we remove the impediments to nuclear competing on a level playing field, we’ll never get those impediments removed. We’ll remove some, but it will still be a strongly tilted field to renewables and against nuclear.

    Regarding this:

    Any practical solution using CST will involve gas backup. I doubt any commercial CST plant will be built without it. Nor will any commercial CST plants make money supplying baseload power. It won’t deliver sufficient return to justify the additional investment for the over extended solar field and thermal storage. If I am right then the ZCA proposal is dead in the water (or desert).

    I agree. I think this is the reality. For other readers look at Figures 4.4 and 4.5, pages 83, 84, in the ZCA2020 report.
    This shows 5GW of hydro plus 25 GW of power generated from storage that has been stored from 10GW of biomass, is needed to provide the power for the worst case days.

    There are two problems with this:

    1. We can’t save all our hydro throughout the year to use for just three days in the year. Other users downstream from the hydro plants need the water too, so it must be released throughout the year. It is also required fro balancing the fast load changes on the grid (due to rapide changes in demand). So discount the hydro contribution. It will not be available to contribute in the way proposed in the ZCA report.

    2. As some one up thread pointed out, the biomass grows near the coast but the solar thermal plants are some 500 to 1000km from where the biomass grows. So it has to be transported. It is obvious that the additional heat for CST will be provided by gas, as Marin points out. The cost of the infrastructure to provide gas lines, of sufficient capacity, to the inland areas will be high. The gas lines must be sized to provide 30 GW of power, but only for 3 days per year according to ZCA Figures 4.1, 4,2 and 4.4 (ignore the hydro contribution)

  95. Referring back to the microhydro issue I have to say I disagree with feed-in tariffs, RECs, obligatory purchase and so on. That’s not just sour grapes because I only get 20c per kwh for PV. For a level playing field I suggest
    1) some form of CO2 constraint must exist
    2) all non-shonky operators get loan guarantees
    3) abolish all output linked subsidies
    4) generators must charge above real average costs.

    Thus a baseload generator might contract for 10 years with a smelter and a wind operator contract for 10 minutes on the national spot market. Either way they have to factor in either how to get a share of the CO2 cap long term or how to cover all labour , material and financing costs. No charging low marginal costs because of subsidies and guaranteed sales.

    If that is not acceptable then give feed-in tariffs to every form of low carbon energy, renewable or not, but retaining a CO2 target. That will also sidestep some grey areas; for example whether granite geothermal is strictly renewable, gas boosting of molten salt or compressed air storage and co-firing of coal and biomass.

  96. Have posted this over in TCASE12, as part of the ongoing list of points to consider in general. As this bit directly relates to the ZCA202 report, I’ll repeat it here :

    “This is due to the blades being manufactured in two sections, allowing for standard transportation, which could predominantly occur on existing rail networks.” (ZCA 2020 p63)

    Sentences of this nature allow one to quickly spot a speculation that needs to be researched. The natural question is : is this issue later researched in the plan and does it become an unqualified assumption. This particular sentence is actually a classic example of a “previous assumption” that is then added to an assumption in the sentence itself. Its a double assumption or perhaps we could call it a “compound assumption”.

    The wind turbine blades in question are from a wind turbine that isn’t commercially available (the Enercon E-126), and yet a key assumption of the ZCA 2020 plan is that it uses technology that IS commercially available. Existing turbine blades are manufactured in ONE piece, are therefore very large and require oversize road transportation, along with all the inconveniences that entails e.g. special routes, different amounts of fossil fuel consumed, tree lopping, road widening/construction… etc.

  97. John Newlands,

    You are proposing far too much intervention by regulators. Just get out of the way pof directing the market. Have a look at this:
    http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/16899_0610pp_grimston.pdf

    I’d respond to your four points as follows:

    1. Yes. But by regulating toxic and CO2 emissions (not just CO2 emissions), not by outting a price on carbon. That is how to internalise the cost of emissions.

    2. No. Why give any loan guarantees (except to get over the FOAK costs that have been imposed on nuclear becuse of 40 odd years of society banning it for irrational reasons)

    3. abolish all subsidies except to get over the problems we have cause as per 2

    4. No. Do not regulate price at all.

    Thus a baseload generator might contract for 10 years with a smelter and a wind operator contract for 10 minutes on the national spot market.

    No. Why get into interfering like this? This is exactly the sort of interference we do not want to get into.

    Have a look at this:
    http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/16899_0610pp_grimston.pdf

  98. The Enercon wind turbines are being manufactured in Germany. Can someone tell me how much diesel is consumed in transporting them to the other side of the planet (as an energy fraction of their useful output over their lifetime)? Or the CO2 emissions of shipping as a fraction of CO2 displaced during generation?

    Maybe BZE want them to be manufactured locally. If so, is constructing a plant and doing a production ramp incuded in their timeline?

    The Enercon tower is constructed of prefab concrete shells. How far will we be shipping the concrete for these towers?

  99. Peter Lang
    Excuse me. Where has the wind power gone?(16July2020)
    http://windfarmperformance.info/
    Did it really drop to almost zero by midnight last night?

    If you look at the synoptic chart for 16July2020, we see a large high pressure system over SE Australia, but also not that a low pressure front has just entered WA, so they should be getting good wind and in another 24 h higher winds will enter SA. In fact 24 h later the 18 wind farms were producing 248MW.

    I think its been established that we can have zero wind conditions over a triangular region 1200 x 800km(500,000sq km). It has not been established that we will have low wind conditions over the entire continent (>10 larger) and we will have widespread cloud cover AT THE SAME TIME.
    As far as the ZCA 2020 plan is concerned this doesnt matter because CSP can cover most of demand and there is additional hydro/biomass.
    Just out of interest what would have the cloud cover been on 16July? Perhaps cloudy in windy WA but definitely not in most of eastern Australia.

  100. BZE will of course have to wait until the Enercon E-126 wind turbine is commercially available once the “pilot study” it is part of is complete… sometime after 2014.

    See p106 re manufacturing :

    “Enercon has established a manufacturing hub in less than two years for wind turbine manufacture in Portugal. In the harbour of Viana do Castello, a rotor blade factory and a concrete tower factory are producing 250 towers and 600 rotor blades (for the E-82 turbine) each year.”

    Note that is for the E-82 2MW turbine, and it doesn’t have the concrete tower. It is pretty clear they have not any figures on how long it would take to build a factory for the E-126 because it is not commercially available. Oh and what does “less than 2 years” mean? a day less, a month less ? ?

    Also on that same page :

    “Eventually Enercon expects to export 60% of the production output from these factories, hence their harbourside location.”

    How do we know that Enercon will be prepared to license this tech for production in Australia, and will the same fiasco that Vestas had ensue with its non-Danish production when they decided to shut down their UK factory?

    http://news.icm.ac.uk/business/utilities/vestas-wind-power-workers-strike/2795/

    Also a small but important point, at the beginning of section 6.4.2 on p106 the ZCA report incorrectly states the height of the Enercon E-126 as 138m, this is incorrect. The turbine is a whopping 198m tall. 3m taller than Canberra’s Black Mountain Tower and some 64m taller than Sydney Harbour Bridge! This is another reason why neighbouring rural properties tend to get upset when hundreds of these noisy turbines get built a few hundred metres from their boundaries and previously serene homes.

  101. Peter Lang,
    It the absence of data to prove what you are saying, the sensible approach is to take a cautious approach, not the highly optimistic view of the wind power enthusiasts.

    On this I would also agree. The OZ-wind efforts should help and the ZCA study should have modeled lowest capacity of wind and solar for the entire country. Just the same 15% firm capacity for Australia wide wind and 30% capacity factor doesnt seem to be widely optimistic. I would suggest 35% capacity factor more realistic. The ZCA study had a lot of wind being load-shed during summer because of the high CSP capacity

    Neil, if you are not interested in costs, aren’t’ all your arguments irrelevant? How can this be discussed rationally if you don’t care about costs?
    I am interested in costs, and for this reason alone think the ZCA2020 plan is relying on far too much CSP and not enough wind. If we want a firm answer of cost of building say 2 nuclear reactors or 2 217MW CSP plants were will only really know costs when they are completed. On the other hand we have a good idea of OCGT, coal fired and wind capital costs but not so good an idea of future NG prices, carbon costs or large(>2MW) wind turbine maintenance and life-time.

    I think the need to reduce coal fired power is so urgent we need to start constructing several nuclear plants, several CSP plants whatever the costs just to get information, skills and operating experience. A PV array in Quenbyean does not adequately reflect CSP operations( excuse the pun)
    For wind power we have good instillation capacity, we are finding out some of the issues as far as grid upgrades, but we should be looking at expanding pumped hydro storage and increasing BAss-Link to take full advantage of very valuable TAS hydro capacity and long term storage which is presently being used partly as base-load in TAS.

  102. I’m just double checking the tower material for the E-82 2MW turbine. That turbine can be built with a concrete tower I think, however information is practically non-existent. It may be the E-82 turbine can be either steel or concrete tower depending on its configuration. I’ll look more into this. At the Enercon website they seem to imply this is the case. For the E-126 the 5 in existence at the pilot project have only been built with a concrete tower.

    My remaining comments in my previous comment still stand.

  103. John Newlands has already commented on the ZCA demand numbers. I am always suspicious of the energy demand numbers used in any analysis of future energy production requirements.

    A quote from Page 10 of ZCA2020:

    “The renewable energy infrastructure proposed (further detailed and costed in Part 3) will be sized to supply a 2020 grid electricity demand of 325TWh/yr, more than 40% higher than today’s electricity consumption. This is greater than would be expected under Business-As-Usual growth, and is more than capable of meeting future electricity needs.”

    Our national energy experts ABARE in their recent report – Australian energy projections to 2029-30 (http://www.abare.gov.au/publications_html/energy/energy_10/energy_proj.pdf) have assessed gross electricity demand for 2030 at 366 TWh (Page 34). Prima facie, given a starting point for 2008 of 247 TWh the estimate of 325 TWh from ZCA seems reasonable. But there’s more from ZCA:

    “However, with further investment in energy efficiency and fuel-switching, to be detailed and costed in future ZCA2020 reports, it is projected that this will be sufficient to replace not only current electricity, but oil and gas that is currently used for transport and direct heating, thereby replacing all fossil fuel use.”

    They further clarify this:

    “Australia’s current energy consumption is approximately 3,915 PJ/yr, while the grid electricity component of this is 228 TWh/yr (822 PJ/yr). Under the Plan, total energy consumption will halve by 2020 without reducing the provision of energy services. To achieve this, grid electricity
    requirements will increase to 325TWh/yr.”

    In the previous paragraph they clearly state that 325 TWh will “be sufficient to replace not only current electricity, but oil and gas that is currently used for transport and direct heating, thereby replacing all fossil fuel use.” 325 TWh is 1,170 PJ. Doesn’t this mean total energy consumption with fall by 70% not 50%?

    ABARE forecast that final energy consumption for 2030 will be 5,019 PJ from a base in 2008 of 3,733 PJ (Page 37). This is inline with ZCA’s 3,915 PJ. Averaging the ABARE numbers makes 2020 around 4,400 PJ. So ZCA are replacing 4,400 PJ with 325 TWh (1,170 PJ). This sounds like the total energy consumption will not halve but quarter. Does this pass the bullshit test?

    Or have I missed something here?

  104. Neil Howes,

    I think its been established that we can have zero wind conditions over a triangular region 1200 x 800km(500,000sq km).

    I have to say, I think this discussion is going round and round and appears to be obfuscating. In previous discussion you argued we do not need 25GW transmission capacity from west to east, the next minute you are saying when the wind isn’t blowing in the east it is blowing in the west. Well, so what? If we don’t have sufficient transmission capacity to transmit all the power generated in the west from the west to the east and sufficient generating capacity in the west to supply for all the demand in the east when the wind isn’t blowing in the east, what is the relevance of the wind blowing in the west?

    Can you please clarify for me, in one post, how you see getting the power to meet the demand in the east when there is no wind in the east? Is question is about firm power from wind only.

    Please, let’s get this sorted, because it keeps coming up and never gets resolved.

    You also say:

    It has not been established that we will have low wind conditions over the entire continent (>10 larger) and we will have widespread cloud cover AT THE SAME TIME.

    Haven’t you got the onus of proof back to front? ZCA effectively makes the assumption “all will be OK” so let’s spend $370 billion on the assumption we are correct. That is what they are arguing, in effect, and you are advocating. That will certainly not pass a LOLP analysis. ZCA and you need the data now if you want to be taken seriously.

    Furthermore, not even ZCA is proposing building wind turbines all over the entire continent as you are suggesting in this statement:

    low wind conditions over the entire continent (>10 larger)

    You also say:

    As far as the ZCA 2020 plan is concerned this doesnt matter because CSP can cover most of demand and there is additional hydro/biomass.

    No, the solar thermal cant do the job as Martin Nicholson explained very clearly upthread. And no, the proposal to use biomass and hydro is quite silly as I explained in points 1 and 2 at the end of this post: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/#comment-82758

    In fact 24 h later the 18 wind farms were producing 248MW.

    And your point is? What is the use of power 18 hours late?

  105. Martin I think you are right that ZCA has ‘disappeared’ about 3100 PJ or nearly 900 Twh of current non-electric energy. This is either hyper efficiency or draconian demand management.

    ABARE evidently assumes 2.5% compound demand growth but WNA says it is 4% for Australia. ZCA implies about -11.3% compounded energy growth 2010-2020 since (.887)^10 = (1170/3915) roughly. I need to check if this excludes the huge embodied energy demand for steel, glass and aluminium. Bob Brown I hope you have some form of electric alternative transport for your frequent flights Canberra to Hobart.

  106. Neil Howes, @ 17 July 2010 at 14.34

    Just the same 15% firm capacity for Australia wide wind and 30% capacity factor doesn’t seem to be widely optimistic. I would suggest 35% capacity factor more realistic.

    You say: “15% firm capacity for Australia … doesn’t seem to be widely optimistic.” What do you base that on, or is it simply your belief/wish? 15% firm capacity for Australia seems wildly optimistic to me. I said why in previous posts. But I think it is up to you to support your contention. It seems wildly out of whack with other experience and even what the wind power advocates are advocating, as explained above.

    30% capacity factor for 50GW of capacity seems on the high side to me. 35% seems wildly optimistic. Barry discussed this at length in a previous thread. You seem to be basing your belief in high capacity figurees by taking selected data from the wind power industry and advocates. These pick the best. Instead, I’d suggest using reliable data from authoritative sources like IEA and EIA actual statistics and the actual energy supplied by wind in the grids such as US, Canada, Europe, AEMO, etc. I haven’t done those surveys recently, but all I’ve seen is that the actual figures are well under than 30%, even allowing for the growth within a year and using the most recent figures with the biggest and best turbines. Having said that, I am happy to run with 30% capacity factor for now.

    I am interested in costs, and for this reason alone think the ZCA2020 plan is relying on far too much CSP and not enough wind.

    Can you show how a higher proportion of wind capacity would make the whole plan cheaper? From my perspective, the wind power is next to uselesss; it cannot be relied upon. The ZCA plan is totally dependent on the wind having 15% firm capacity, something that you seem to believe in but haven’t been aboe to produce any actual evidence from real world wind output data to support your belief.

    If we want a firm answer of cost of building say 2 nuclear reactors or 2 217MW CSP plants were will only really know costs when they are completed.

    I can agree with you for solar thermal, becvaue there is no cpommercial experience with them yet. Not only that it is likely to be at least a decade before we get to that point, at the very earliest.

    However, why you make that statement about nuclear? There are some 440 reactors operating around the worked and many have been built or are bing built (ie contract prices are available) at around $1.5 to $2.5 million/MW. The recently signed contract for FOAK in UAE is at $4100 million/MW. Perhaps you are arguing that we will not know the cost because of politics and regulatory environment that might prevail in Australia. I’d agree with that. But surely that is one of the main points of BNC to alert the public and decision makers to the unlevcel playing filed that is preventing us having low cost clean electricity. That is what we wan to correcxt, surely? It seems silly to argue that wind is cheaper because we have set up all the rgulations to be so favourable to renewables that it is therfore the chepaest option. And for all thoe onthes reading this: wind is not cheap. It is high cost, low value power. This gives some idea of the costs:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/30/ozea-bucket-wind-model/#comment-80281

    A PV array in Quenbyean does not adequately reflect CSP operations( excuse the pun)

    I totally agree. But it is the best we have, that I know of, at the detailed level. Do you have any better? If so, can you provide the data to support your contention? If not, your belief does not seem to be well founded – a bit like the ZCA plan :)

    You mention hydro again. Forget it. Australia does not have sufficient hydro for grid stabilisation and the other uses it is so valuable for. No one is going to hand it over for backing up for wind power – not in Australia.

  107. I’ve been working on this, but I keep getting distracted so I may as well post what I’ve done so far, just for interest and for others to get stuck into.

    Criticisms of the Zero Carbon Australia by 2020; Stationary Energy plan
    Summary

    The ZCA2020 plan fails on each of these criteria:

    1. LOLP – the analysis does not include a Loss of Load Probability analysis. If it did do so, it would certainly not meet the AEMO requirements. Far more energy storage, generating capacity and transmission capacity would be required or fossil fuel back up generation capacity.

    2. Build rate – the build rate is unachievable. The approvals process is far longer than allowed for in the ZCA2020 proposal and no commercial solar thermal power stations of the type proposed have been constructed anywhere in the world.

    3. Water – the quantities of water required to make the concrete during construction and for washing the solar reflectors during operation for the life of the plant will be unavailable or hugely expensive.

    4. Costs – the capital cost is likely to be at least double the ZCA2020 estimate and probably much more. The operating costs will also be high – people required to wash the reflectors, living costs and travelling time in remote areas, etc.

    5. Safety – the safety issues created by the proposed ZCA2020 system will sink this project on its own. The safety of workers constructing these structures throughout remote areas and the ongoing health and safety of the operators (long travelling distances in the outback and cleaning glass surfaces on high structures) will result in many accidents. Furthermore, the huge amount of money required for this system (when compared with the nuclear alternative), will mean less funding for public health.

    Costs

    In the following I offer a high level critique (a ‘sanity check’) the ZCA2020 cost estimates for the most significant elements of the plan. I do this in the following steps

    1. I’ll accept the ZCA estimates of generating capacity and transmission capacity as they have proposed them and do a sanity check of the cost of this plan.

    2. I’ll discuss some of the most significant assumptions regarding the generating capacity, propose alternative assumptions, and re-estimate the cost of the plan based on these revised assumptions.

    The time limit for completion of the ZCA plan, i.e.by 2020, is impracticable, so I am ignoring this constraint in these cost estimates.

    Wind Energy Capital Cost

    Appendix 3B “Projected Wind Energy Capital Costs” (p146), reveals an example of the optimistic thinking that pervades the SCA report.

    This appendix starts with the estimated costs of 7 large current wind farm projects in Australia and derives an average cost of $2.5 million/MW.

    Table A3.3 gives the average capital costs from 7 large current wind farm projects in Australia. This gives the total capital costs of $2.5 Million/MW.

    (p146)

    However, the ABARE April 2010 listing of major generation projects lists the nine wind projects under construction. http://www.abare.gov.au/publications_html/energy/energy_10/EG10_AprListing.xls
    The average cost is $2.9 million/MW. The costs have been increasing, not decreasing, over the years: the average cost in the ABARE April 2009 list was $2.3 million/MW and in the September 2009 list was $2.6 million/MW. So the cost has increased 20% in the past year.

    Next the ZCA report, Appendix 3B, uses projections by wind farm advocates to argue that the costs will decrease to $1.25 million/MW by 2015., a 50% decrease in 5 years!

    “we can reliable expect the capital costs to drop to approximately $1.25 million/MW in Australia.”

    P147.
    This is contrary to the trend of increasing real costs?

    Actual costs, as quoted by ABARE, are more reliable than costs projected by wind power advocates. Therefore, I suggest, ZCA should have been conservative and used nothing lower than the latest ABARE figure of $2.9million/MW.

    If the real cost (i.e. inflation adjusted) of wind farms remains constant at $2.9billion/GW, then the total cost of the 48GW of wind farms that are proposed in the ZCA plan will cost: 48GW x $2.9 billion/GW = $139.2 billion (c.f. $71.675 billion in the ZCA plan (Table 3.14, p67).

    On this basis the ZCA plan underestimates the cost of their wind plan by $67.5 billion close to 50%!

    So, add $67.5 billion for the capital cost of the wind farms alone (without considering changes to their assumptions about the wind capacity needed to achieve the stated objectives).

  108. Neil,

    If you want to see some real world data from the UK go to the Renewable Energy Foundation web site :

    http://www.renewable-energy-foundation.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=58

    There is plenty of info and analysis there that is very well presented and laid out. The info is taken directly from the OFGEM database, which is the UK’s renewable energy certificate supplier for electricity generated by wind, biomass, PV etc.

    The UK has lots of wind installed, and is very windy place. UK annual capacity factors are <30%

    e.g. 2005 was 28.2%, 2006 was 27.1%, 2007 was 27.4%

    It is interesting note that UK has higher capacity factors than Spain, Germany and Denmark! e.g. for 2005 to 2007 average CF's were Germany 22.6%, Spain 20.2%, Denmark 26.2%.

    30% is being very generous. 35% is totally unrealistic.

  109. I can’t remember off hand. I know there was a big UK lull in the recent winter. I’ll dig in my archives.

    According to the Oswald paper European lulls are not uncommon, i.e. they cover more than the UK and Ireland, stretching across the North Sea to Europe.

    Oswald, J., Raine, M. and Hezlin, A., “Will British weather provide reliable electricity?” Energy Policy 36(8), August 2008, pages 321www.windaction.org/documents/18480

    The Irish grid also has a lot of data available. Again I’d need to dig around to find that info.

  110. It’s just occured to me that ZCA is arguing that, within 5 years, the cost of wind farms will halve; down to close to what China expects to do them for.

    If we applied the same logic to nuclear, we should be able to have nuclear in Australia for close to $1.5 billion per GW. The cost of electricity would halve. We could make all the world’s aluminium and a lot of other things too. We’d be a clean, wealthier country with excellent services such as Health, Education, infrastructure and plenty of funds to avoid and/or clean up all the mess we are making.

  111. Bryen,

    No need to do so. I know its 0MW. If Neil can prove the the minimum that the real world firm power in any large grid is more that 0MW we can use that. As far as I am concerned it is 0MW, or so close to zero it is irrelevant.

  112. Some quick notes i made regarding the modelling – p80 to 86 :

    There are 11 windfarms in SA, 2 in NSW, 4 in Vic and 1 in Tas. I dont see how simply scaling the output of 9 existing windfarms over south Australia is valid for the entire continent. Which 9 did they use? Even given the assumption of 15% firm, the dynamics of the system may be completely different to the results presented.

    I know that Capital in NSW only “officially” came online in Oct 2009 because they were (and still seem to be) having turbine problems. I have AEMO wind farm data for Cullerin and Capital for July 2009 onwards. I can only assume that other windfarms were not used because some of them were not fully commissioned for the entire 2008/2009 period. This should be stated clearly though.

    They have not made any allowances for transmission constraints.

    Including demand for electrification of transport by merely scaling up the demand profile already in the NEM is a bit difficult to accept. Is adding in electric transportation really that simple?

    The modelling is only based on 2008 and 2009 data, no attempt has been made to model the 10 year transition period, and then a period once transition is complete.

    The modelling makes no inclusion of the transition period at all. Given that the transition occurs over 10 years I would expect to see what the transition might look like, not an isoloated and idealised 2 years once everything has been built.

    There really does not seem to be any detailed information on the model. There are no references whatsover in the modelling section has to how sound any of its assumptions are. Has the model itself undergone any form of independent peer-review?

    + a another general thought :

    I haven’t spotted any costs factored into the study for the decommissioning costs of the existing coal/gas etc that will be replaced? What would these costs be?

  113. I’ve just started loking at the costs of solar thermal.

    ZCA has used a cost of $3.41 billion/GW.
    NEEDS has a cost of $17.07 billion /GW
    from Table 2.3, p12 here: http://www.needs-project.org/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf
    Converted at: EUR10,241 @ A$1 = EUR0.60

    This is for a solar tower with 16 hours molten salt storage and considerd by the NEEDS to be the best cost data available in 2008 for this technology.

    So I wonder why ZCA ignored this information.

    Martin Nicholson, can you shed any light on this enormous discrepancy – a factor of five difference?

  114. I’ve just seen the assumptions EIA uses for calculating the cost of solar thermal. They are here:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/assumption/renewable.html

    They rely on some very old data, as far back as 1993, so I don’t believe we can place much reliance on EIA for solar thermal electricity costs.

    At the moment, I am inclined to have most confidence in the NEEDS report for the current (2007) costs. However, I do not accept their projections which are based on highly optimistic learning curves.

    The solar thermal advocates (eg David Mills) and the wind advocates have been using expected “learning curves” for the past 20+ years to project declining costs. But the reverse has been occurring. So I don’t accept any of this learning curve stuff for renewables.

    One of the reasons I don’t accept it for renewables is because they are at a very early stage in the technology life cycle. So in most cases they are not repeating a mature technology many times. They are continually changing the technology. To me that is not learning curve. If you design one type of plant, like an NPP as France did in the 1970,s and Korea and China are doing now, and then repeat that many times, then you do get a learning curve. But it must be basically the same design each time. That will not be the case with solar thermal. So, I’d expect the cost of solar thermal to keep escalating, just as it has done to date and just as wind power has done to date.

    If I have read the NEEDS report correctly, it seems we may have to increase the cost of the solar thermal component of the ZCA2020 report by a factor of five. And that is before we consider the likely increase in the capacity required. My gut feeling is we need to double the capacity – as well as replace the hydro and biomass components with gas firing, as Martin Nicholson pointed out upthread.

  115. This April 2010 report http://greenenergyreporter.com/2010/04/solarreserve-100-mw-nevada-power-plant-to-wrapup-permitting-by-year-end/ says:

    utility-scale solar thermal power developer, says it expects its $550 million, 100-megawatts Tonopah Solar Energy project

    i.e. US$5.5 billion/GW or about
    A$6.0 billion/GW.

    There is a very large range here. It seems no one has much of a clue about the real costs of solar thermal. Which is not surprising since it is a way-off-in-the-future technology. If ZCA was trustworthy, you’d expect them to state the range of values being quoted in the litterature and err on the high side.

  116. Pingback: TCASE 12: A checklist for renewable energy plans « BraveNewClimate

  117. Peter, The cost of ST is virtually impossible to determine, because of its very large subsidies. However, it is clear that the cost of solar generated electricity, even with subsidies is quite expensive compared to the cost of fossil fuel generated electricity and nuclear power.

    tThe cost problem for ST is related to the materials requirements of the gathering fields. The materials need to be bought, fabricated and deployed. Efficiency is fairly fixed. If you are going to have storage your gathering field needs to be doubled or tripled. With air cooling you loose some efficiency. Where are savings going to come from then? Molten salts enhance efficiency some. And a large scale fabrication factory will produce some savings. Perhaps deployment can be mechanized, via a huge planting machine, which will do final assembly for gathering field mirrors, and place each mirror so that it will reflect optimal sunlight onto the tower.

    ST advocates need to talk more about where savings will come from, before they have a convincing case that the savings they are counting on are real.

  118. Peter Lang, on 16 July 2010 at 13.12 Said:
    Excuse me. Where has the wind power gone?

    What this real data shows is that at the time Peter is referring to, 14 of the 23 proposed wind farms would be producing nothing. I have not read the BZE report in detail, but I am sure that others here could quickly check on the following:
    I understand that the design proposes 50 GW installed wind capacity, that the “detailed modelling” that I have heard referred to is confident that wind energy can supply 15% of the baseload requirement. Here are my numbers for the real data scenario of 16 July 2010:
    Total supply is 50 GW x 100/40 = 125 GW
    Then, 15% firm for baseload = 18.75 GW
    Given that the synoptic system takes out 14 of the 23 windfarms, that means that the 9 left have to be operating, concurrently, at greater than 100% of their installed capacity.
    Does not compute.

    Let’s be kind and do it another way. Does the 15% of baseload mean that the wind farms have to supply merely 15% of the 50 GW wind installed? That reduces the requirement to 7.5 GW.
    Therefore the remaining 9 windfarms all have to be delivering at a combined load factor of 42% throughout the calm. As those of us who have studied this wind data know, this is still a very big ask. Further, does the BZE transmission capacity design allow the power flows required from the 9 Qld and WA windfarms to flow to the south east to make up the difference under this synoptic scenario?

    I suggest that, in fact, the “detailed modelling” has ignored this big calm scenario. To put it in context, it may be helpful to add that since 1 Jan 2010, there have been over 20 occurrences of this type of big calm, and quite a few more where the dips in output have been nearly as profound, so this situation must be taken into account.

    One contributor has suggested that an examination of the synoptic chart shows that “If you look at the synoptic chart for 16July2020, we see a large high pressure system over SE Australia, but also not[e] that a low pressure front has just entered WA, so they should be getting good wind … .”, so that, presumably, all will be well. As Peter Lang was quite correct to ask: “And your point is?”.

    We need to keep very firmly in mind that we are looking at the merits of a particular proposal, the BZE proposal. This proposal can take no great advantage of the supposed “good wind” in WA under this synoptic scenario, because there are not many of the total number of wind farms of the proposal placed in WA. Perhaps the contributor needs to be reminded that, once built, these things can’t be moved around like pieces on a chess board. Perhaps also, we all need to be reminded that this proposal would cost absolutely staggering amounts of money, its environmental impact would also be staggering, and that the best thing that can be said about it is that its likely benefit is currently shrouded in mystery.

    In passing, I would like contributors to note that if they have had a look at: http://windfarmperformance.info, do they realise that they are seeing, possibly for the very first time, real wind farm performance data, data that is now covering over a year’s operation of the wind farms on the eastern Australian grid? Andrew placed the data there so that anyone could see and evaluate the data for her/himself. Any electrical engineers viewing the data for the first time will be horrified that such terrible, pathetic performance of this form of generation is being seriously pursued. Also, good modelers know that real data trounces the most detailed of “detailed modelling” each and every time.

  119. It seems there is some concern about the cost of green electricity in Nevada:

    …Numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show the price of retail electricity in Nevada averaged 12.99 cents per kilowatt hour in February.

    By contrast, the Solar Electricity Index, from San Francisco consulting firm Solarbuzz, reported an average price in June of 34.74 cents per kilowatt hour for sun-generated energy. The index is based on a monthly survey of 70 to 80 companies that sell solar electric products.

    At issue in the resource plan are agreements NV Energy has made with SolarReserve, for its Tonopah Solar Energy thermal project; …

    http://www.tradingmarkets.com/news/stock-alert/nve_costs-of-renewable-energy-will-be-disclosed-after-puc-ruling-1017707.html

  120. Charles Barton,

    I certainly agree with all you said. And this and much more is very well researched and reported in the NEEDS report here:
    http://www.needs-project.org/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf

    I strongly recommend this report, to those who havent read it yet, for both background reading and as a source of detailed information down to all the costs, ald the material quantities, all the emissions, all the labor etc.

    I haven’t seen any other report that comes near to this, nor that is as authoritative. IOt is part of the ExternE group of studies.

  121. My closing thoughts for tonight:

    We have a range of unit costs (A$B/GW) for solar tower with 16 to 17 h storage as follows:

    ZCA = $3.41.
    NEEDS = $17.07
    Tonopah = $6.47

    The Tonopah cost estimate is an “approximate cost” givcen by the CEO to a journalist of a renewable energy magazine. So I don’t treat that as a reliable source. Furthermore, the project is still in the scoping stage, It has not yet gained all the approvals. This is the type of project where the costs are likely to tripple or quadruple.

    I place most confidence in the NEEDS report. In fact, I would increase those figures by 25% to 50% for these reasons:

    1. cost increases since 2007

    2. there will inevitably be more, untried innovations included which will add to the complexity, technical risks, and therefore the costs

    3. Importantly, the costs are based mostly on the cost of the project in Spain. Spain has higher population density, better infrastructure (road, electricity supply, water near the powerstation that is being built. The higher population density means workers are closer to the work site and services are closer so less coat compared with constructing these types of projects 500km and more from Australia’s capital cities.

    In short, as I leave this for tonight, I am leaning towards using the NEEDS unit costs for re-calculating the cost of CST component of the ZCA2020 report.

    Any comments, sugfgestions or guidance, please, before I embark on this next step?

  122. I just choked on this nugget (2.5.8):

    This comparison shows that nuclear power, due to its high technical and safety requirements, is by far the slowest to come online (on average 15 years), approximately ten years later than the low emission options.

  123. Great work Peter. Perhaps also do an “ok even if we met you in the middle cost” for solar thermal, at a middle point between $3.41 & $17.01. Not essential though…

    Also more comments on the model. According to p16, section 3.5 “Inter-annual variability and Variation with Location” in :

    Coppin PA, Ayotte KA, Steggel N. 2003. “Wind resource assessment in Australia – A planners guide.” Wind Energy Research Unit, CSIRO Land and Water.

    it is stated that:

    “Like the weather, the annual averages of wind speeds are essentially unpredictable.” They then go on to say that the range of variations can be estimated which must be allowed for in energy production sales. They give the example of Canberra airport for a 20 year period and the magnitude of variability is +/- 15%, and for a hilltop location they suggest +/-5% (although no specific location is identified). Coppin et al then point out that the variation in energy yield will be TWICE these figures, because as we now wind speed is NOT directly proportional to energy produced. “In some cases the lowest years can be up to half the energy yield of the best years.”

    As I have said upthread ZCA references this very document on p77 ref 94 in relation to wind speeds. This is the reason why I want to know why they have not modelled the entire transition AND at least another 10 years for wind. The wind is very fickle, and as you can see the energy yield can vary SIGNIFICANTLY over long time frames. NOTE : this is a what happens in nature in the “real world” and is NOT something that can be “fixed” with technology.

  124. In ZCA report p64 they state :

    “Sites with high wind resource have less variation at high wind speeds and reduce the intermittent nature of wind. Sites were chosen to have a minimum average annual wind speed of 7 m/s (at 80m hub height) from the Australian Renewable Energy Atlas.”

    I should point out that this the ultimate minimum wind speed for wind farms, not a “high wind resource”!

    This choice quote from Coppins et al page 28:

    “If the economic threshold for wind power production were lowered from 8ms to 7ms for example, there would be about 20 times more land available for economic production”.

    Note the careful use of the Coppin et al wording that IF the economic threshold was 7ms! This is very important because available land amounts vary exponentially with wind speed. Coppin et al looking at an 80,000 sq km area of NSW and the amount of land available at 7ms was 3.07%, and at 8ms was 0.16%.

    This should give a very clear indication that ZCA’s 7ms wind speed choice is at the absolute lowest wind resource NOT a high wind resource as they claim.

  125. Also I meant to ask. Does a similar resource monitoring have to take place with solar ? i.e. do they actually put a measuring device on the proposed site, as is required for wind?

  126. John Morgan,

    The nugget you spotted at (2.5.8):

    This comparison shows that nuclear power, due to its high technical and safety requirements, is by far the slowest to come online (on average 15 years), approximately ten years later than the low emission options

    demonstrates clearly that the ZCA2020 report is not impartial. It has been assembled by a group of Renewable Enerrgy advocates with strongly held, religious-like beliefs

  127. An important summary point on wind farm resource planning from Coppins et al :

    p9 :

    “The quantification of wind farm energy yields, especially over the projected lifetime of a wind farm remains an exercise based on precision on-site measurements, using quality well-calibrated instruments. Particular attention must be paid to converting these, usually short-term measurements, into lifetime average estimates, using quality controlled long-term data sets.”

    I couldn’t have put it better myself, ZCA report and modelling has clearly not done this.

    It is patently obvious to anyone who cares to look at this CSIRO research and see what is involved in evaluating a site for a potential windfarm, that simply scaling up the output of 9 existing wind farms in SA, and assuming this can provide 40% Australia’s electricity requirements is PURE FICTION. This report if it enters a library, especially at a university, must be placed well away from the non-fiction section.

  128. Bryen,

    Perhaps also do an “ok even if we met you in the middle cost” for solar thermal, at a middle point between $3.41 & $17.01.

    I would not support that approach. If we include rubbish numbers in the average we’ll get a rubbish result. This is what van Leeuwen and Smith did to produce figures to show nuclear used more energy than it produces, emits far higher CO2 emissions (LCA) than it does and we’d run out of uranium.

    Actually, I’ve been thinking more about the unit costs for CST over night. My thinking goes like this.

    1. CST is in the very early stages of the technology life cycle. There are no genuinely commercial plants anywhere yet. The fe that have been built are demonstrations, and heavily subsidised. None have the amount of energy storage required. In fact, NEEDS projects, optimistically, we may have 24 h generating capacity with CST by 2020, and that is for only one day so does not handel periods of overcast conditions.

    2. So, all the CST plants should be considered ‘pioneer plants’.

    3. Pioneer plants commonly run over cost by factors of two to four and more. Here are some example:

    – Sydney Opera House – exceeded the original budget by a factor of close to 100 (original budget was $1.25 million and the final cost was $100 million) (from memory)

    – Parliament House, Canberra (ran over budget by a factor of about 8 (from memory it )

    – The EPR reactor in Finland, the first of its kind, is running over budget by about 50%.

    – Wind farm cost 140% of original budget http://jamesdelingpole.com/blog/the-great-wind-farm-disaster-ctd-1028/

    – there are many examples of pioneer processing plants running over cost by factors of 2 to 4 and more.

    4. Because CST plants are ‘pioneer’ plants, any estimates we have now that are based on estimates for demonstration plants are likely to over run by factors of 2 to 4.

    5. I consider the NEEDS Analysis to be by far the most thorough and therfore reliable, estimatre of the current state of the art and currnent cost os CST.

    6. The NEEDS cost estimate, which is based on 2007 costs) need to be increased by about 20% to bring it to 2010 costs, to be consistent with the ZCA costs. So, lets call it a round figure of $20 billion/GW

    7. Because we will be building pioneer plants (the design will keep changing for every one) for the next 20 to 30 years, we should expect this cost to be about double in practice. So say $40 billion/GW

    I reckon that is reasonable.

    Any comments?

  129. Peter Lang query on solar thermal costs.

    Some of the discrepency will be to do with the old hoary learning curve. The ZCA cost is “end-of-cost-curve” whatever that actual means. To NEEDS it probably means 2050 not 2020.

    In Fig 3.11 on Page 34 of the NEEDS report they show the famous asymptotic cost curve. For Case A optimistic-realistic the cost per MWh drops from 170 euro to 80 euro by 2020 and to 50 euro by 2050. Assuming most of this drop has to do with the capital cost then at the end of the cost curve it has fallen by 70%.

    Based on NEEDS costs your $17.07 might have halved by 2020 and fallen to $5.1 by 2050. Of course we would hope that ZCA is not costing plants to be in operation by 2020 using 2050 costs.

    From Appendix 3A in ZCA2020 it seems they are relying on NREL data. Unfortunately NREL is hardly an unbiased source for such data. Like you I would believe NEEDS before NREL.

  130. More notes on the ZCA wind modelling based on some more words of wisdom from Coppin et al p40 to 44 Section 5.11 “Long-term Projection of Energy Yields”

    “An estimate is needed for wind speeds at hub height for the next 20 years, or the design lifetime of the wind farm. No forecasting system can deliver this to sufficient accuracy.”

    Coppins et al go on to discuss the ways that energy yield is forecasted, usually by a combination of the short term (i.e. 21 to 39 months) on-site measurements from the monitoring tower at the wind farm site, and longer term records from nearby on-ground weather stations. They list the 5 major factors that will influence the success and accuracy of predictions :

    1) availability & proximity in both distance & climatic similarity terms of the long term data set to the local data

    2) nature and quality of the long term observations

    3) length of long term record

    4) length of common record between 2 stations for correlation analysis

    5) assumption that future will resemble the past, especially with climate change effecting wind speeds

    This section in Coppins et al continues on for another four pages detailing these main issues, none of which have been addressed by the ZCA modelling (in fact to call it modelling is stretching the use of the word in my view). In the context of data integrity they also detail some important limitations of looking at historical BoM data, e.g. wind data is at 10m level (not hub height) in many cases in hourly average form, the Automatic Weather Station is relatively young, (only 17 years or so with many stations having a shorter period). At some centres data is only available as daily average or with manual or infrequent observations. A MAJOR problem they state is quality and consistency of this data over a long-term period, every data set must be quality controlled.

    Section 5.11.2 is important as this looks at correlation techniques and quantification of accuracy, neither of which have been done by ZCA! Briefly : This procedure produces a relationship and confidence interval for predicting the wind speed at a target site from a long term site. This enables for an estimate of the 20 year wind farm lifetime to be estimated. If hourly wind data is available it is advantageous to break the wind down into 12 direction sectors. The distance apart or climatic differences between stations can degrade the correlation between stations eg.. if one is on an escarpment and one is on the coast. Coppins et al state : “This can introduce significant uncertainty into the calculations.” Confidence intervals are then computed and “are only valid if the assumptions of the linear regression model are met.” Coppins et al then say : “In practice these conditions are difficult to satisfy completely, so confidence intervals developed in this way are often approximate.” & “If the length of the long term data set is less than 20 years, there is likely to be additional uncertainty due to the variation of wind speeds on time scales of decades. This may add several percent to the uncertainty. These are complex procedures and the total error can have a very significant bearing on the uncertainties in the long-term average yield estimates, especially if there are no satisfactory long-term data sources nearby.”

    Given that none of this has even been done with the ZCA modelling, I cannot see how any of the estimates for the wind farm output is remotely valid. I would have to completely discount it. It has completely no bearing in reality or a scientifically acceptable method of prediction.

    I don’t imagine why anyone would finance or contemplate embarking on construction of such a scheme beginning in January 2011 based on the “results” of the ZCA modelling.

    *** There is much more I can say on this aspect alone, but really, do I need to go further and continue to waste my time with this ?

  131. 4.2 Solar Thermal Capital Cost

    ZCA2020 developed its estimate of the unit costs ($/W) for CST largely from a 2003 report by Sargent & Lundy and from the proposed, 100 MW Tonopah Solar Thermal, Nevada, USA. ZCA2020 assumes $60 billion for the first 8587MWe then $3.41 million/MW thereafter.

    The Sargent & Lundy report is old, discredited and superseded by the NEEDS (2008) report. The Tonopah project is still in the scoping stage and is still obtaining approvals to proceed. The cost estimate is not published although the CEO commented to a journalist from a green energy magazine, that the cost would be about $550 million . This converts to A$6.47 million/MW. This is the type of ‘pioneer’ project where the early cost estimates are likely to triple or quadruple.

    EIA gives the capital cost of solar thermal as US$5,132/kW which converts to A$6.04 million/MW. The assumptions EIA uses for calculating the cost of solar thermal are here:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/assumption/renewable.html
    They rely on some very old data, as far back as 1993, so I don’t believe we can place much reliance on EIA for capital costs for solar thermal plants.

    The NEEDS (2008) report is by far the most thorough and authoritative study of the cost of solar thermal. The unit cost is EUR10,241/kWhe for a solar thermal tower with 16 hours molten salt energy storage. This converts to A$17.07 million/MW. This cost is in 2007 Euro and converted to ‘2007 A$’ at the rate of A$1 = EUR0.6.

    Costs for large electricity generation projects have risen by about 20% since 2007, so we need to raise the A$17.07 by $3.40 to $20.47; say $20 million/MW.

    However, there is more to add. The NEEDS cost analysis is based largely on the solar thermal tower plant in Spain. The cost of similar plants could be expected to be higher in Australia than in Spain. Spain has higher population density than Australia. There is more and better infrastructure (roads, electricity, water) near the power station site than would be the case for the CST power stations in Australia. The higher population density means more workers are closer to the work sites, and the many businesses and organisations needed to support such developments are closer, so there is less cost in Spain than would be expected for constructing the equivalent plant some 500km from Australia’s capital cities. I’d suggest we allow 25% higher capital cost in Australia; adding 25% brings the cost to $25 million/MW.

    That’s now. How would we expect the cost of CST to change over the coming decade? See below.

    4.2.1 Projected future costs of CST

    I am inclined to place most confidence in the NEEDS report for the current (2007) costs. However, I do not accept their projections of future costs; they use highly optimistic learning curves and these have not proven to be correct in the past.

    The solar thermal advocates (e.g. David Mills) and the wind power advocates have been using expected “learning curves” for the past 20+ years to forecast declining costs. But the reverse has been occurring (as noted above the cost of wind power in Australia has risen 20% in the last year alone). So I don’t believe the learning curve assumption for CST.

    One of the reasons I don’t believe the learning curves for CST is because the technology is at a very early stage in the ‘technology life cycle’ . So in most cases we will not be replicating a mature technology many times. We will be continually changing the technology. To me that is not a learning curve. If you design one type of plant, like an NPP, as France did in the 1970s and Korea and China are doing now, and then replicate that many times, then you do get a learning curve. But it must be basically the same design each time. That will not be the case with solar thermal. So, I’d expect the cost of solar thermal to keep escalating, just as it has done to date and just as wind power has done to date.

    My thinking goes like this:

    1. CST is in the very early stages of the technology life cycle. There are no genuinely commercial plants anywhere yet. The few that have been built are demonstrations, and heavily subsidised. None have the amount of energy storage required. In fact, NEEDS forecasts, optimistically, we may have 24h generating capacity with CST by 2020, and that is for only one day so does not handle periods of overcast conditions.

    2. So, all the CST plants should be considered ‘pioneer plants’.

    3. Pioneer plants often run over cost by factors of two to four and more. Here are some example:
    a. Sydney Opera House – exceeded the original budget by a factor of close to 100 (original budget was $1.25 million and the final cost was $100 million) (from memory)
    b. Parliament House, Canberra (ran over budget by a factor of about 8 (from memory it )
    c. The EPR reactor in Finland, the first of its kind, is running over budget by about 50%.
    d. Wind farm cost 140% of original budget http://jamesdelingpole.com/blog/the-great-wind-farm-disaster-ctd-1028/
    e. there are many examples of pioneer processing plants running over cost by factors of 2 to 4 and more.
    4. Because CST plants are ‘pioneer’ plants, any estimates we have now that are based on demonstration plants are likely to over run by factors of 2 to 4.

    5. I consider the NEEDS Analysis to be by far the most thorough and therefore reliable, estimate of the current state of the art and current cost of CST.

    6. The NEEDS cost estimate, which is based on 2007 costs, needs to be increased by about 20% to bring it to 2010 costs, to be consistent with the ZCA costs. So, lets call it a round figure of $20 billion/GW.

    7. Add 25% ($5 billion/MW) for the higher cost of building the plants in Australia compared with Spain; $25 billion/GW

    8. Because we will be building pioneer plants (the design will keep changing for every one) for the next 20 to 30 years, we should expect this cost to be about double in practice. So say $50 billion/GW

    Footnotes in Word document:
    http://greenenergyreporter.com/2010/04/solarreserve-100-mw-nevada-power-plant-to-wrapup-permitting-by-year-end/
    http://www.needs-project.org/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf , Table 2.3, p12
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_lifecycle

  132. Peter Lang,
    If we applied the same logic to nuclear, we should be able to have nuclear in Australia for close to $1.5 billion per GW. The cost of electricity would halve.

    I think you have made my point about costs of nuclear. Isnt this exactly what you have done in a later post

    ,i>However, why you make that statement about nuclear? There are some 440 reactors operating around the worked and many have been built or are bing built (ie contract prices are available) at around $1.5 to $2.5 million/MW. The recently signed contract for FOAK in UAE is at $4100 million/MW.
    In otherwords you are using the China cost of $1.5million/MW as the low end costs. But the range is not $1.5-2.5 million /MW it should be $1.5 to 4.1million/MW(if that is a firm price with no cost esculations and is the highest price). The ZCA should have given a range( Chinese costs to present Australian costs). I would think that present Australian costs are far more realistic and fairly reliable. With nuclear we will only know when the first reactor is completed or a firm price contract is let. That was my point.

  133. Neil, and also following up Peter’s earlier comments on zero / close to zero output in real world data.

    The Ireland Grid windfarm info is available for anyone to check :

    http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/windgeneration/

    Try putting in these two dates :

    13/01/2010 & 14/01/2010 which is the middle of winter, where there was a mega dip in wind farm output form the entire wind fleet. At 3am on the 14th it floors at around 20 MW… from an approx 1100 MW installed. This is a
    capacity factor of about 2%. No onshore weather station in the
    Republic of Ireland gave more than 12 mph and almost the same was true for the whole UK.

    UK electricity demand @53,000 MW extrapolating 2% to the UK’s 4 GW of installed wind power,@80 MW of wind feed, i.e. wind providing just 0.1% of UK demand…

    Some other interesting dates :

    09/01/2010, 08/01/2010, 07/01/2010

    Note carefully that the vertical axis auto scales to fit the graph, so you will; changing MW numbers at the top of any graph plot, installed capacity in Ireland is approx 1100MW.

    This period of poor windfarm performance made the headlines in the UK as it was right in the middle of UK’s severe cold winter :

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/6957501/Wind-farms-produced-practically-no-electricity-during-Britains-cold-snap.html

  134. Peter Lang,
    have to say, I think this discussion is going round and round and appears to be obfuscating. In previous discussion you argued we do not need 25GW transmission capacity from west to east, the next minute you are saying when the wind isn’t blowing in the east it is blowing in the west. Well, so what? If we don’t have sufficient transmission capacity to transmit all the power generated in the west from the west to the east and sufficient generating capacity in the west to supply for all the demand in the east when the wind isn’t blowing in the east, what is the relevance of the wind blowing in the west?

    The CA plan is assuming 15% firm power from 48GW wind capacity(7.5GW). If all of this was coming from WA and none from SE Australia, and none from NQLD, we would need 7.5GW transmission less the wind used in WA(say 1GW) or 6.5GW. The ZCA plan has 8GW transmission capacity.

    The 25GW was referring to todays NEM grid demand being met by wind(75GW) with some hydro/pumped hydro back-up . If 33% of Australias wind capcity was located in WA that could be up to 17GW maximum(assuming load sheding above 70%), minus local demand(3GW) so would need to move 14GW to SA, and 12GW onto VIC and NSW. The other 11GW would have to come from storage and/or OCGT. This is an extreme case, but the message is you never have to move the entire demand of a grid from one end to the other because demand is never all at one end.

  135. Peter I agree that the NEEDS figure for FOAK is probably the best guess ($17m/MW). I would be cautious about pushing this up to $50m because both sides can look not credible – a bit like politicians slugging it out during an election campaign.

    I am also sceptical about CST learning curves – particularly for parabolic mirror. This is very mature technology (except perhaps the molten salt storage) and pretty straight forward engineering and plumbing. I doubt there’s much more to “learn”. I’m less sure about solar tower. It really isn’t as developed so there may be some engineering breakthroughs yet to come.

    My concern on the issue of cost is not so much the unit price (although I agree their estimate seems very low). I’m more concerned about the comment I made yesterday on the total electricity demand. Unless I have made some false assumptions (which is possible but I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what they are) ZCA’s proposal that we can manage to replace all fossil fuel use for one quarter of ABARE’s final energy consumption estimate for 2020 beggers belief.

    Even if what ZCA is proposing for 2020 was technically possible (which I suspect we all doubt) it may need to be scaled up at least 3 fold to meet the energy demand even assuming significant improvements in efficiency. That will mean 3 times the cost even before you start upping the unit prices!

    I suspect this is a very serious flaw in ZCA2020 which is why I would like others to question my calculations.

  136. Regarding those cold winters over in the UK, I’d suggest having a look at the UK National Grid’s “Winter Consultation Report 2009/10″. Its available online here :

    http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/SYS/outlook/

    According to the report page 42:

    “A more detailed view of the amount of electricity generated by wind is shown in
    Figure A.30. This data is based on the wind farms that are currently visible to
    National Grid through operational metering. These wind farms have a total capacity of approximately 1586 MW. The output varied between 3 MW and 1586 MW with an average of 435 MW. This gives an average load factor of 27% over the period. From a security of energy supply perspective the key issue is the uncertainty and variability of output and the average load factor is of limited use. What can be observed from the data below is two periods of low wind output over several days in early November 2009 and early January 2010. Both of these periods were relatively cold for the time of year and coincided with relatively high electricity demands.”

    page 44 :

    “The volume of wind power generation itself is not particularly a key metric for us from a system operation perspective itself, but here it is a useful indicator of the growth in the impact of wind power with its inherent uncertainty and volatility. This illustrates what is becoming more of a feature for us in managing electricity security of supply. In the same way as we see relatively cold or warm years we clearly also see relatively windy or still years which along with the installed wind generation capacity are the key influences of the annual energy output.”

    and further down the page :

    “Wind generation output was only 7% at the time of the winter peak.”

    bottom of page 78 under the heading “Generation Availability Assumptions 2010/11″ :

    “As far as wind is concerned, the assumption has been reduced to 10% as the winter peak usually occurs when temperatures are very low with little wind. A period of low temperatures usually results from a high pressure system, which means low wind speeds.”

    on page 81 Capacity Credit is discussed :

    “Whilst this work is ongoing we have reviewed the historic load factors of wind power generation and propose a 10% capacity credit figure for the winter to come. This reflects the levels of output we have seen at demand peaks, so average load factors over an entire winter will normally be significantly higher. The results of our latest phase of work on wind power capacity credits and system adequacy is contained in Appendix 1 to this report on which we invite comment and seek expressions of interest in a workshop.”

    and then there is a whole Appendix relating to how the UK National Grid are still trying to work out just what exactly IS the UK capacity credit, and also HOW they should work it out…

    So I have to agree with Peter’s earlier remarks, 15% firm capacity is surely optimistic.

  137. Neil,

    Your answers are all over the place. Very frustrating trying to nail you down on anything.

    First, regarding the cost of nuclear. The point I was making is that if ZCA can halve the cost of wind power in 5 years, because they believe we will get down to the cost of wind power installations in China, then why can’t we apply the same logic for nuclear? I was attempting to make a point with a rhetorical question. Sorry you didn’t get it. Next time I’ll try to make the point clearer.

    My point about the $1500 to $2300/kW for nuclear is that is the price they are being built for in China and Korea. China expects to reduce the cost even further over the coming decade. So clearly, these countries that do not have the political and regulatory constraints on nuclear that we have, can build nuclear cheaper than new coal in Australia. The point, I hope most people get is that what we need to do is to remove the imposts on nuclear. Not waste money wind farms (which do next to nothing to reduce CO2 emissions anyway); and not put carbon prices on fuel for electricity (until all imposts on nuclear have been removed, the playing field for electricity generators is level, and the world has agreed to a mechanism to price carbon).

    The $4,100/kW for UAE is an example of a first buld in a country. We should be able to do better in Australia, if we clean up the political and regulatory constraints.

    I hope this is sufficient explanation for you to be able to join the dots now if I haven’t been clear enough.

    Just to reitterate, the original question was intended to be rhetorical.

  138. Martin Nicholson,

    Thank you. I’ll try to get to looking at what you’ve done on that key assumption. But I can’t for a while, so I am hoping others will take that on instead of me (for now). (My son is coming again in just over an hour so I’ll be intermittently involved for a while).

    There is a lot to be reviewed in the ZCA report. They have done a lot of work to prepare it and have full time workers and modellers and Mark Jacobson behind it. So we can’t check everything. All we can do is focus on the assumptions that make the biggest difference.

    I decided to start very simply, as I stated in the post up thread. I intended to look first at the unit rates for the most significant components – wind and solar.

    Next I wanted to look at the assumptions that underpin their estimates of the generating capacites for the most expensive components.

    If the generating capacity need to be increased, the cost of generating capacity will increase and so will the cost of the transmission.

    The really big assumption that you are looking into is important. However, it does not affect the comparison of the cost of nuclear versus ZCA proposal to do the same job. Either nuclear or the ZCA proposal could generate the same amount of zero carbon electricity. So my interest is in which alternative is cheaper, safer, uses the least fresh water inland, and meets the requirements for a reliable electricity supply.

  139. Martin,

    I agree with your comment about th $50million/MW. I put it in to show just how flimsy all the foigures are. The ZCA argument about reducing the costs of wind power by 50% in 5 years is just a ridiculous, given that they have been increasing by 20% per year. That was the point I was attempting to make.

  140. The Capital cost of the solar component of the ZCA plan depends on the assumed unit cost for CST, as shown in below:

    Source A$ billion/GW A$ billion
    SCA $3.41 $190.00
    Tonopah $6.47 $274.75
    NEEDS (2007) $17.07 $724.74
    Spain 2010 $20 $849.22
    Aust 2010 $25 $1,061.53
    Aust 2015 $50 $2,123.05

    Below I have calculated a revised total cost for the ZCA plan based on changing only the unit rates for the wind capacity and the CST capacity. I’ve applied the new cost for wind as per the post upthread. I’ve applied the five revised unti rates for CST shown above. The total cost of the ZCA plan, in A$ billions, is:

    SCA $370
    Tonopah $538
    NEEDS (2007) $989
    Spain 2010 $1,114
    Aust 2010 $1,328
    Aust 2015 $2,390

    Take your pick what you’d believe.

  141. Neil Hpwes,

    We have two disagreements that are on the top of my head that I want to come back to:

    1. The transmission capacity we need from east to west for wind power (and similar discussion for solar)

    2. The cost of pumped hydro (for preliminary estimating as we are dong) is just the cost of the generating capacity or the cost of the storage plus pumping capacity.

  142. The numbers in the two table above ar not easy to separate. In short, the ZCA plan’s underestimate of the unit rates for wind power and CST alone, if corrected, looks like lifting the total cost of the plan from $370 billion to about $1 trillion.

    I expect the generating capacity and transmissions capacity also needs to be increased to enable the plan to provide reliable power. My gut feeling is we wil find it will need to be doubled, so the total cost would be around $2 trillion.

    For comparison, I reckon the cost for nuclear to do the same job is about $120 billion.

  143. ZCA report page 64 & 65(Fig 3.10) :

    “Figure 3.10 illustrates estimated power output from wind farms located in South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria, using Bureau of Meteorology wind data and a Vestas V80 2MW Turbine power curve. This study was undertaken by the CSIRO in 2003. It shows the minimum wind output occurring in April/May.

    Here they are citing a CSIRO paper :

    Davy, R. & Coppin, P. 2003, ‘SOUTH EAST AUSTRALIA WIND POWER
    STUDY’, 27, CSIRO, http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/renewable/
    publications/pubs/windstudy.pdf, Accessed: 2010-04-28

    As this website doesn’t exist, people trying to obtain this paper will find it in the National Library as a free PDF at :

    http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/47605/20050213-0000/www.greenhouse.gov.au/renewable/publications/windstudy.html

    Here are a few sentences from the summary on page 1 of Davy & Coppin :

    “However it was found that seasonal variations were similar across the south east of the continent and hence large scale aggregation would have little effect on the annual seasonal cycle in wind power output.

    These results indicate that variability in total wind power output can be reduced to some degree by wider distribution of numerous wind farms but remains substantial because synoptic patterns have a strong influence over the whole region.”

    & on page 2 :

    “Note: It is important to remember that the results of this study are based on assumed state penetration levels and locational distributions based on current proposals. There has been no technically based analysis to date as to the levels of wind penetration that can be supported by any state. These factors mean that actual state penetration levels may ultimately be quite different from the levels assumed for this analysis. The results of this analysis depend on the assumed distributions and penetration levels and cannot necessarily be extrapolated if the actual distributions and capacities of wind farms in the south east of Australia differ.”

    That last sentence is VERY IMPORTANT and a KEY POINT, this data should not be used to extrapolate, but ZCA are implying that what happens in this study is what will happen if we install 50GW of wind at the locations they’ve decided on in Table 3.13!

    Some more words from the Davy & Coppin paper:

    “Small gaps (up to 4 hours) were filled using linear interpolation. Some larger gaps were filled by combining two neighbouring stations – for example, some poor data at Bathurst spanning about one year were filled using Orange AWS. Also the Coles Point record was rather patchy and was filled using Port Lincoln. Several gaps in the data remained but it was preferred to leave them without further manipulation.”

    OK, so the Davy & Coppin study is from a handful of not great quality BoM weather data for 9 HYPOTHETICAL wind farm sites (3 per state), NOT from ANY EXISTING WIND FARM SITES. e.g. the NSW sites chosen were Goulburn, Bathurst & Glen Innes and all 9 sites used BoM data for 4 years only.

    + I also spotted re “capacity credit” Davy & Coppin say :

    “Wind energy has quite different uncertainty characteristics to fossil fuel generation, which means that wind generation is not well described by the term “firm capacity”. Wind farm output is variable and not always dispatchable, as generation levels at a given time are determined by the variation in the wind resource.”

    “Thus for wind energy, predictability of the wind regime becomes the key network management issue. For these reasons this paper avoids referring to “firm capacity” as its meaning is often misinterpreted when used in relation to the statistical availability levels of wind energy.”

  144. Peter, the $550 million figure for the Tonopah Nevada project, leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Is this an overnight figure? What sort of subsidy arrangement will the project have with the federal and Nevada state governments. Will the project get a 30% rebate from the Federal treasury upfront? Will the project receive both loan guarantees, and tax subsidies? Clearly then the ambiguities created by the question of subsidies makes the use of the Tonopah Nevada project as an index to Australian solar costs worthless.

  145. seth, on 15 July 2010 at 3.44 said

    $17.5B/Gw – CSP with storage. Largest in the world just fired up.

    For example, in Alvarado, Spain, the energy firm Acciona inaugurated a 50-MW (20 MWavg) concentrating solar power plant in late July. The cost is €236 million, about $350 million U.S., or about $7,000 per kilowatt.

    Can you give a link for this?

    Also, how is the $7,000/kW derived?

  146. Charles Barton,

    Thank you for highlighting those issues. I agree.

    The more we look at it the more it seems the NEEDS analysis is the provides the best cost data we have at the moment, but ignore the ridiculously optimistic “learning curves”. The trends wind and CST is for increasing costs not decreasing costs.

  147. Hi Gene Preston,

    My question to Seth was how he derived the figure of $7000/kw for Solar Thermal Tower technology from the total cost of US350 million for the 20MWe (avg) solar plant. If the $7000 figure referred to nuclear, he mad no mention of that.

    Regarding Andersol 1, that is a trough plant not a solar tower. The ZCA costings are based on solar tower with 17 hours of molten salt storage.

    This report provides what I believe is the best available information on solar thermal, (trough and tower and storage),
    http://www.needs-project.org/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf , Table 2.3, p12

    I’d encourage those interested in the costs of the ZCA plan to be across this report.

    NEEDS has also done an equivalent report for nuclear. The methodologies are as consistent as they could achieve, and therefore provide a good comparison of the technologies (costs, emissions, material requirements, etc). Google NEEDS to get access to all the reports. You can also get to them from within the ExternE web site.

  148. Charles Barton. I agree (A$4000/kW from Korea). And that is for the first four units. Perhaps the next four could be A$3500 and down to A$3000 by about the tenth or twelth unit.

    At that rate, the cost of 50GW (the peak capacity of the ZCA plan) would cost about A$160 billion.

    Or about 1/10th the realistic cost of the ZCA plan

  149. Charles Barton,

    To achieve $4000/kW for the first units in Australia and $3000/kW (or perhaps even $2500/kW) for the settled down costs, we’d need to:

    1. remove all the impediments to nuclear

    2. Have bipartisan support at federal and state level for building nuclear, AND

    3. have a national focus on providing clean electricity at the lowest possible cost.

  150. ZCA is vague (p119) on the economic payback period. The report acknowledges in Part 6 that vast amounts of CO2 will be needed to produce materials and fabricate them. Presumably during the construction phase we should totally refrain from hedonistic ways of making CO2 such as recreational travel. Suppose the payback period was 8 years so the total embodied energy investment was 8 X 325 = 2600 Twh. Averaged over 10 years that is 260 Twh but the non fossil energy yield will be say 32.5, 65… culminating in 325 after 2020. However we will have paid off only 1800 Twh or so of the 2600 Twh energy debt by then since it is a phased transition, not abrupt. We want a very fast payback period in order for the energy debt to be repaid by 2020. But if the CST and wind combination had a fast payback it would already have been done and wouldn’t require a special program.

    That’s the energy debt. The next question is that of the CO2 spike during the construction period. Does the subsequent zero carbon somehow cancel out the spike? My understanding is that CO2 has a cumulative effect. Even if Australia has the fossil carbon to undertake a vast construction program few other countries are in this position. Zero Carbon World fails the scalability criterion.

  151. We have two disagreements that are on the top of my head that I want to come back to:

    I dont think we disagree on costs of pumped hydro, the cost you gave seem reasonable for Tantangara /Blowering and Eucumbene/Blowering. My disagreement was with your statements such as:
    You mention hydro again. Forget it. Australia does not have sufficient hydro for grid stabilisation and the other uses it is so valuable for. No one is going to hand it over for backing up for wind power – not in Australia.

    The present 5GW hydro and 2GW pumped hydro is being used now for grid stabilization( peak demand) so I see no reason why this amount would not continue to be available. In addition if another 5-11GW of NEW long term pumped hydro is built (4-8GW pumping, >1000GWh) this would be sufficient to replace the loss of 10-16GW of wind power output for > 5days, especially if a third of that capacity was in TAS. Furthermore if the use of hydro for peak management is replaced by CSP( a better use that using for baseload) hydro can also be used to even out season variations in wind and solar with no change in water use because storage capacity is so large(ie multi-year).

    Will get back to you on the 25GW grid article.

  152. 350/50 = $7000 per kw. With 102 m kwh annual becomes 12 MW average (13 MW nuke) or $30000 per kw average.

    ” For example, in Alvarado, Spain, the energy firm Acciona inaugurated a 50-MW concentrating solar power plant in late July. The cost is €236 million, about $350 million U.S., or about $7,000 per kilowatt.[ix] Co “”

    ” ‘Alvarado I’ will generate 102m KWh of electricity a year, enough to supply 28,000 households ”

    http://solar.energy-business-review.com/news/acciona_opens_50_mw_alvarado_i_csp_plant_in_spain_090728/

  153. if another 5-11GW of NEW long term pumped hydro is built

    Where? Was it Mark Diesendorf who suggested vast concrete-lined storage ponds dotting the coastline? Even if you had political carte blanche to excavate reservoir volumes wherever you wanted (and good luck with that, especially in Tas), I can’t see that Australia’s topography makes this even remotely practical, even in a strictly engineering sense.

  154. In addition to the link above about Irish wind farm stats, the UK ones are here :

    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp.php#generation_by_fuel_type_table

    Some interesting articles for plugging in dates (in addition to those I have given above) & thinking about “worst case scenarios” & also the critical need for models to look at longer time frames than ZCA have done so that inter-annual variability is properly taken into account e.g. 10 to 20 years :

    “SCOTLAND’S wind farms have produced only around half the amount of power they were expected to this year, Scotland on Sunday has learned.
    The government blamed the low generation levels on unusually calm weather,
    but critics said the figures showed the danger of becoming too dependent on renewable energy.

    Turbines are expected to operate at an average output of about 30 per cent of their maximum installed capacity.

    But the average output over five months this year was 17 per cent
    – just over half the expected average.”

    http://news.scotsman.com/news/Windfarms-only-giving-half-power.6426015.jp

    &

    http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1634185?UserKey=

    “Scotland’s much-vaunted network of wind turbines was barely producing enough electricity to boil 1,000 kettles at times this week.”

    ” A spokeswoman for the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Wind speeds have been lower than the nine-year average in each of the first five months of this year, so this will have affected the generating output of wind farms.””

  155. Peter Lang – “I agree (A$4000/kW from Korea). And that is for the first four units. Perhaps the next four could be A$3500 and down to A$3000 by about the tenth or twelth unit.”

    Except that the true cost of the UAE reactors is 40 billion dollar which is $8000/kW. The South Koreans are part financing them over the lifetime of the plants. Pretty good terms and this us why they beat AREVA.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5BS2C120091229
    “A $40 billion deal by the United Arab Emirates to acquire nuclear reactors puts it ahead in a drive to meet fast growing power needs among its Gulf neighbors, while also allowing it to export more of its oil.”

    Whatever you call it the amount of money UAE hands over will be 40 billion dollars. 20 billion is the overnight cost which is half the all up cost as normal.

    Again if you can’t accept learning curve cost reductions for wind power and solar how can you possibly accept it for nuclear. The all up cost of 25GW of Korean nuclear power would be 200 billion even if we could get the same deal.

    Mind you then we would be selling dirt to the Koreans and getting back nuclear fuel at 1000 times the price and also completely dependent on them for nuclear fuel.

    Additionally as this is all baseload we would still need the fossil fuel infrastructure to provide load following and peaking or all the grid upgrades and storage and more nuclear power stations. This way the baseload only plants could at least shift power to other areas to keep running.

    Personally I don’t see how a team of engineers and scientists from the Uni of Melbourne’s Energy Research Unit could get it all so wrong. I think they did the sums pretty thoroughly they just didn’t use nuclear. Sure the figures are optimistic however they demonstrated that it is possible at least.

  156. “Sure the figures are optimistic however they demonstrated that it is possible at least.”

    By “they” are you referring to ZCA? I can’t see how they’ve demonstrated that any at all is possible in that report.

  157. Stephen Gloor

    Except that the true cost of the UAE reactors is 40 billion dollar which is $8000/kW.

    No. That is wrong. You have not understood the various components of the bid. The bid is US$20.x billion for 5400MWe. The cost works out at A$4,100/kW. All this is laid out on earlier threads on BNC.

  158. Seth,

    As bryen said, Alvarado is a solar trough technology, not solar tower. Furthermore, it does not have the energy storage needed to meet the requirements of the ZCA plan. It cannot provide power on demand 24/365. So it is irrelevant in this analysis.

  159. Stephen Gloor, Once again you turn a number from Reuters into anti-nuclear by wishful thinking. From UPI Asia.com, December 30, 2009:
    “Of the total value of the contract awarded by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation to a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Company, US$20 billion serves as payment for the construction, commissioning and fuel loading of the projected four units, while the remaining US$20 billion goes for operating and maintaining the proposed reactors for a period of 60 years.”

    O&M expenses are not capital costs. The 20 billion is not overnight costs, it is the full cost of the reactors including financing to the UAE. The South Koreans are currently building two APR-1400 at a projected cost of around $6.3 billion ($2333/kW).
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf81.html
    Those cost figures are consistent with reported reactor construction costs in Japan, China, and India.

  160. Stephen Gloor,

    The high cost of solar energy is because of the technical challenges involved with trying to provide reliable, dispatchable power from intermittent, low density energy (the sun). Whereas, the high cost of nuclear in western countries is due to politics.

    Since you have now become interested in costs, at last, perhaps you’d like to consider this comparison of the cost of wind and nuclear: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/30/ozea-bucket-wind-model/#comment-80281

    I’d be interested in your comments on that thread. Is there an error in it? if so please provide the correction and explain.

  161. I’ve been reading through some of BZE’s Matthew Wright’s comments about nuclear on the thread :

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/02/21/response-to-an-integral-fast-reactor-ifr-critique/

    I find some of his anti-nuclear comments a little strange, particularly as Torresol Energy, one ZCA’s two main player’s for the CST are 60% owned by nuclear industry player SENER :

    http://www.sener.es/area-energia.html

    “SENER has extensive experience in the development of thermosolar plants, in the latest combined cycle electric plants, those used for the regasification of liquid gas, in nuclear energy, biofueling, oil refining, chemical, petrochemical and plastics.”

    I find it even more interesting that the other Torresol 40% partner Abu dhabi MASDAR’s website is no longer in existance :

    http://www.masdaruae.com note this is linked from Torresol’s site :

    http://www.torresolenergy.com/en/quienes-somosMasdar.html

    In addition the SolarReserve tech is licensed through Rocketdyne :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_%26_Whitney_Rocketdyne

    “In addition to its primary business of building rocket engines, Rocketdyne has developed power generation and control systems. These included early nuclear power generation experiments, radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG), and solar power equipment, including the main power system for the International Space Station[citation needed]. In the sale to Pratt & Whitney, the Power Systems division of Rocketdyne was transferred to Hamilton Sundstrand, another subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Rocketdyne’s know-how in the design of molten salt receivers for Solar power towers like Solar Two is now used by SolarReserve[2] .”

  162. Neil Howes,

    We have two disagreements regarding hydro and one regarding the east-west transmission capacity needed to meet the ZCA assumptions for wind power. I’ll wait for your comment regarding the east west transmissions capacity. Below, I’ll comment on the two hydro disagreements.

    Can our existing hydro capacity be used to back up for wind as assumed in the ZCA plan

    The present 5GW hydro and 2GW pumped hydro is being used now for grid stabilization( peak demand) so I see no reason why this amount would not continue to be available.

    I did not say the hydro capacity will not be available in the future. What I said was it will continue to be needed for what it is used for now –stabilising the grid, emergency back up and peak power.

    The grid load (demand) will continue to fluctuate in the future. Hydro is needed to level those fluctuations caused by changing demand. Adding intermittent generators on top of the fluctuating demand would require a lot more balancing capacity. We do not have anywhere near enough hydro capacity to back up for intermittent wind and solar power. The intermittent generators would add orders of magnitude to the amount of hydro storage capacity required.

    Remember that we have generators that can respond to the changes in demand although with different response rates. The hydro is the most responsive. We could do with more hydro if it was available (i.e. economic to build more). It is not.

    But providing hydro to back up for wind is a whole different ball game. We’d need orders of magnitude more storage capacity.

    If demand increases, as the ZCA plan assumes, then we will need to increase the hydro capacity and increase the present storage capacity just to continue to do its present job, and that assumes we still have dispatchable generators as we have now – i.e. coal and gas (or nuclear).

    Also recall my comment from upthread where I pointed out that ZCA plan assumes the hydro can be stored all year then released on just a few days. This is not acceptable because there are other users who need the water downstream.

    Neal, this is not a small ,misunderstanding on your part. It is a huge misunderstanding.

    You can work this out for yourself if you want to.

    Finally, on this point, I repeat my statement:

    You mention hydro again. Forget it. Australia does not have sufficient hydro for grid stabilisation and the other uses it is so valuable for. No one is going to hand it over for backing up for wind power – not in Australia.

    Are the costs of pumped-hydro generating capacity and energy storage capacity additive?

    The second thing we disagree about on hydro is your comment on another thread that the cost of generating capacity and energy storage capacity is not additive. This is not correct. Admittedly, we often do not state the energy storage capacity separately when we are talking about conventional pumped hydro schemes because they have just a few hours of storage (at full power). Most of the pumped hydro plants around the world have around 6 to 10 hours of storage at full power. To increase the storage capacity by orders of magnitude, as would be required for what you envisage, will clearly cost a lot. The Electricity Storage Association puts the cost at about $50 to $150/kWh storage capacity. http://www.electricitystorage.org/images/uploads/capital.gif I’ve been using $100/kWh for the ‘ball park’ estimating I’ve been doing in my posts on BNC.

  163. The solar tower is not a feasible large scale design because the required MW covers too many hectars. The Spanish plant uses 50 hectars for 50 MW. I estimate the solar tower would have needed to be of the order of 700 meters for the Spanish solar thermal plant. The passive trough system will be much lower in up front cost and easier to maintain and operate. The tower power concept is DOA (dead on arrival).

  164. Gene Preston,

    I’d like to know more about why you say that the Solar Tower is even less viable than the solar trough? I realise that the solar trough comprises most of the solar thermal capacity installed so far. And I realise that NEEDS (2008) selected the solar trough as their reference technology because it is more developed, and lower cost per kWh at the moment.

    However, the ZCA plan is dependent on having 17 hours of storage at full generating capacity. Even that is not enough and so they need back-up from 15GW of biomass and 5GW of hydro.

    NEEDS considered Solar Tower with 16 hours storage at full power and solar trough with 7.5 hours storage at full power. They said that solar thermal (both technologies) might be able to provide 24 hour, full power generation by 2020 at the earliest.

    It seems that the Solar Tower is, on paper, the technology that is closest to being able to meet the ZCA plan’s requirements for dispatchable solar power.

    Are you able to say more on why solr tower is dead in the water?

  165. Stephen Gloor,

    Whatever you call it the amount of money UAE hands over will be 40 billion dollars. 20 billion is the overnight cost which is half the all up cost as normal.

    No. Wrong! Explained in previous post. The capital cost is US$20.x billion for 5400MW. This is A$4100/kW. The other $20 billion is for operating the plant.

    Again if you can’t accept learning curve cost reductions for wind power and solar how can you possibly accept it for nuclear.

    The lower cost of nuclear is proven by actual plants (many of them). The learning curve for solar thermal and wind power has not been demonstrated. In fact the reverse is being demonstrated, year after year.

    I do accept reducing costs for nuclear because we can see the cost of nuclear is far cheaper in those countries where the policies are appropriate and supportive than it is in the western countries.

    I do not accept that the cost of renewables is decreasing. David Mills and other solar power advocates have been forecasting rapidly decreasing cost of solar thermal for 20+ years. The opposite has been happening. EPRI’s estimate of the cost of solar thermal increased 30% between 2008 and 2009. ABARE shows that the actual cost of wind farms in Australia increased 20% between April 2009 and April 2010. NEEDS forecast very rapid reduction in cost of solar thermal between 2007 and 2010 (and continuing). The opposite has happened.

    In short, the much lower cost of nuclear is demonstrated. The high and increasing cost of solar thermal and wind power is demonstrated. That is why I accept that nuclear can be cheaper than $4100 in Australia (if the politics and policies are appropriate) and why I believe the cost of wind and solar in the ZCA report is far too low.

    The all up cost of 25GW of Korean nuclear power would be 200 billion even if we could get the same deal.

    No! The all up cost of 25GW of Korean nuclear power would be less that $100 billion, not $200 billion. The total cost would be about $80 billion if unit costs decrease to $3000/kW by about the 12 unit.

    The all up unit cost for the first 5400MW of Korean reactors would be A$4100/kW if we could get the same deal (and that would depend on our internal politics and policies). Subsequent sales could approach the same costs as in Korea – about $2500/kW – if we could get a level playing field for all generating technologies in Australia. Australian policy is the block to low-cost, clean electricity.

    Mind you then we would be selling dirt to the Koreans and getting back nuclear fuel at 1000 times the price and also completely dependent on them for nuclear fuel.

    This point is irrelevant because the cost of nuclear fuel is an insignificant item in the cost of nuclear generated electricity. You can get emotional about this, but ‘we all do best if we each do what we are best at doing’. If Korea can process yellowcake to nuclear fuel cheaper than we can then that is because of where our policy decisions over the past 40 odd years have got us to now. The sooner we stop making bad policy decisions the better – for everyone!

    Additionally as this is all baseload we would still need the fossil fuel infrastructure to provide load following and peaking or all the grid upgrades and storage and more nuclear power stations. This way the baseload only plants could at least shift power to other areas to keep running.

    No. Wrong! Firstly, nuclear can load-follow if it is designed to do so. The EPR can load follow. Its power output can change at the rate of 80MW per minute. It can operate at anywhere between 25% power and full power.

    Second, 8GW of pumped-hydro with about 40 GWh of energy storage, http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/05/pumped-hydro-system-cost/ when combined with 25GW of nuclear, could meet our current electricity demand, including meeting the peak. Scale this up as our demand increases.

    Third, this is roughly how the French system works, and has been doing for the past 30 odd years. Note the contrast: nuclear has been proven for the past 30 years, unlike the ZCA Plan which is predicated on totally unproven and untested future technologies and pie-in-the-sky cost estimates.

    Personally I don’t see how a team of engineers and scientists from the Uni of Melbourne’s Energy Research Unit could get it all so wrong. I think they did the sums pretty thoroughly they just didn’t use nuclear. Sure the figures are optimistic however they demonstrated that it is possible at least.

    You seem to place your trust in what you want to believe.

  166. The solar tower height limits this design to a low power output whereas the solar trough does not. I estimated the 50 MW Spanish solar trough plant if it were built as a single tower for a 50 MW plant would require a tower. Draw the figure on paper and you will get some hundreds of meters tower height. The generator cannot be put at that height at that high power level without undue cost of the support tower. The solar power tower height will be proportional to the square root of the MW. This means that a 5000 MW plant would need a tower height of several kilometers which is comletely infeasible. In summary the power tower cannot be scaled up in size, which si a severe limitation to the economicis improvement. The power tower is a little toy that can never grow up.

  167. Gene,

    Very interesting comments, I didn’t realise the power towers were so tall. Each Solar 220 module (217MW) requires a concrete tower 280 metres tall according to the ZCA report. To give a bit of perspective :

    Sydney Harbour Bridge – 134m
    Canberra Black Mountain Tower – 195m
    Sydney Centrepoint Tower – 305m

    So the tower height is just short of Centrepoint Tower in Sydney. But more to the point, given that ZCA claims that commercially available tech and non-pilot plant tech is being proposed, I have a question :

    Can someone point me at a website or something, because I can’t find a single example of one of these Solar 220’s in exsitance..? Am I missing something?

    In the ZCA report, Gemasolar (17MW) is an artists impression + a picture of the construction site as of June 2010 & Solar Reserve’s 150MW plant is a drawing… The BrightSource projects claimerd by ZCA are for six 200-220MW tower projects (with no storage), but the BrightSource website says nothing of it, the closest I can find is :

    http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/projects/ivanpah

    “The approximately 400 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will consist of three separate plants.” & later … ->

    “Commencement of construction on the first plant is scheduled for the second half of 2010, following permitting review by the California Energy Commission and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The first plant is scheduled to come online in mid-2012.”

    “The complex is comprised of three separate plants to be built in phases between 2010 and 2013, and will use BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower (LPT) technology.”

    Hmmm, 400 / 3 = 133.3MW each.

    I repeat, maybe I missed something, but I’ve tried very hard to find one of these commercially available, proven tech Solar 220 modules, that ZCA are proposing and I can’t find one. Can someone please point me at one?

  168. Bryen,

    Very interesting comments, I didn’t realise the power towers were so tall. Each Solar 220 module (217MW) requires a concrete tower 280 metres tall according to the ZCA report. To give a bit of perspective :

    Sydney Harbour Bridge – 134m
    Canberra Black Mountain Tower – 195m
    Sydney Centrepoint Tower – 305m

    Wow! Now the point Gene Preston was making has got through to me. Sorry Gene, I didn’t draw the picture and the point didn’t land. Now it has.

    As bryen and Gene Preston point out, none of these have been built. It will take decades to progress through the technology life cycle to a mature technology, if they ever do. So there is absolutely no basis for the cost estimates at all. The $50billion/GW I mentioned up thread may not be such a silly figure after all!

    Perhaps one of the renewable energy advocates might suggest combining the solar received and the wind kite – the ‘Solar Kite Technology’

    Remember, you heard it first on BNC!

  169. Stephen Gloor said:

    Personally I don’t see how a team of engineers and scientists from the Uni of Melbourne’s Energy Research Unit could get it all so wrong. I think they did the sums pretty thoroughly they just didn’t use nuclear. Sure the figures are optimistic however they demonstrated that it is possible at least.

    bryen said:

    Can someone point me at a website or something, because I can’t find a single example of one of these Solar 220′s in exsitance..? Am I missing something?

    In the ZCA report, Gemasolar (17MW) is an artists impression + a picture of the construction site as of June 2010 & Solar Reserve’s 150MW plant is a drawing… The BrightSource projects claimerd by ZCA are for six 200-220MW tower projects (with no storage), but the BrightSource website says nothing of it, the closest I can find is :

    http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/projects/ivanpah

    “The approximately 400 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will consist of three separate plants.” & later … ->

    “Commencement of construction on the first plant is scheduled for the second half of 2010, following permitting review by the California Energy Commission and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The first plant is scheduled to come online in mid-2012.”

    “The complex is comprised of three separate plants to be built in phases between 2010 and 2013, and will use BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower (LPT) technology.”

    Hmmm, 400 / 3 = 133.3MW each.

    I repeat, maybe I missed something, but I’ve tried very hard to find one of these commercially available, proven tech Solar 220 modules, that ZCA are proposing and I can’t find one. Can someone please point me at one?

    Put the two together. Stephen Gloor believes the “team of engineers and scientists from the Uni of Melbourne’s Energy Research Unit” despite the fact they have buit there whole idea on a non existant technology and nonsense cost figures. But Stephen dismisses most of what the nuclear industry says. This is an example of the blindness that is evident in many of the renewable energy advocates.

    I wonder if Stephen Gloor will come back and answer these posts.

  170. I repeat my question to Stephen Gloor also.

    Stephen you wrote :
    “Sure the figures are optimistic however they demonstrated that it is possible at least.”

    By “they” are you referring to ZCA? I can’t see how they’ve demonstrated that their “2020 plan” is possible in that report, by any stretch of the imagination.

  171. I find it hard to envisage a biomass boiler within a few hundred metres of any solar tower that uses molten salt. Even with scrubbing the boiler flue gas will contain particulate that will settle on nearby mirrors. Tonnes of ash will accumulate that needs to be trucked away. Tar will build up on the boiler pipes and need cleaning. Over time the combined CST and boiler complex will look grimy, not a space age machine. That’s assuming both that solar towers suit molten salt and that biomass can be economically transported without oil based fuel.

  172. John Newlads,

    That’s a very good point. There would be many more such problems that would be found and have to be dealt with as the plants move through the technology life cycle towards being a mature technology (which would take several decades). This is just another point demonstrating that the technology has never been demonstrated, yet ZCA is advocating building 42.5 GW in 9 1/2 years.

    Another thought occured to me last night. ZCA is proposing to take biomass from wheat crops, peletise it, transport it to the solar power stations and then burn it. Won’t doing this continually over decades deplete the nutrients from the soil where the crops are being grown? Does that mean we have to make a lot more furtiliser. What would be the effect on GHG emissions from making all the extra fertiliser? And what about the land degredation effects. I haven’t read the relevant chapters on this so perhaps this is addressed.

    Perhaps someone here can expand on this.

  173. Peter thats an important point re biomass.

    From what I’ve read of the report there is nothing at all in it which discusses the environmental impacts of any of the technologies they are proposing (Point 6.6 in TCASE 12). In any planning application of course this has to be addressed in the Environmental Assessment (EA), which will make or break any application. This is an incredibly detailed aspect of any proposal for generation of electricity or installation of powerlines and other infrastructure (as I’m sure you’re aware Peter).

    The fact that environmental issues haven’t even been addressed in the report I find quite shocking, given that they are proposing such a huge and fast mobilisation, or “ramp-up” to use their phrase. I’ve discussed some of these issues (in relation to the wind energy aspect of the proposal) in my earlier comments up thread.

    I’ll be interested to hear more on these issues from others in relation to the remainder of the ZCA report.

  174. Actually I should perhaps stress what bad planning and “Fast Tracking” means operationally for renewables, and in particular wind.

    In order to alleviate the bird deaths at Altamont Pass, the wind turbines are shut down for four months every year (Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb).

  175. ps : similar issues have come up in relation to the significant number of bat deaths due to barotrauma from industrial scale wind turbines.

    As I’ve mentioned also upthread and elsewhere on BNC, loss of habitat, noise effecting animal communication and avoidance behaviour also affect mortality. Its not just simply a case of how many animals get whacked by wind turbine blades.

  176. Perhaps one of the renewable energy advocates might suggest combining the solar received and the wind kite – the ‘Solar Kite Technology’

    This should be pretty straightforward if the mirror field is fast tracking and we use the new flexible organic PV materials.

  177. Peter,

    They state that the biomass requirement would be 13% of the waste straw from Australia’s wheat production. I don’t know what happens to that waste currently.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think wheat growing is the biggest consumer of superphosphate in Australia. There is said to be an impending world shortage of phosphate and the phosphate cycle may be one of the first “planetary boundaries” to be reached, so it would be worth delving deeper.

  178. Peter lang,
    Most of the pumped hydro plants around the world have around 6 to 10 hours of storage at full power. To increase the storage capacity by orders of magnitude, as would be required for what you envisage, will clearly cost a lot.

    Clearly the examples you gave for pumped hydro in the Snowy, are not typical of other pumped hydro. For example Tantangara/Blowering(6-13Billion cost for 8.5GW capacity; your figures) and 500GWh storage has only one cost, the cost of generating/pumping capacity and the tunnels. There is no additional cost for storage because the dams have been built. So if only one tunnel was used( say 2.8GW at a cost of 4Billion ) we still have storage of 500GWh at a cost of $8/kWh. I think you said Eucumbene/Blowering would have a storage cost of $3/kWh(ie low because of the 3,000GWh potential storage.). How much storage would be needed in the ZCA2020? To capture 70% of 48GW capacity(35GW) no storage would be required because demand is 45GW. If 5-10GW storage was available this would allow some CSP to continue to be used even under high wind conditions for several days and the power later returned during low wind periods( saving biofuels or NG backup, or hydro) and giving a 10-20% capacity margin. We are not increasing storage by magnitudes, in fact just using a small part (22,000GWh of present storage potential.

    The grid load (demand) will continue to fluctuate in the future. Hydro is needed to level those fluctuations caused by changing demand. Adding intermittent generators on top of the fluctuating demand would require a lot more balancing capacity. We do not have anywhere near enough hydro capacity to back up for intermittent wind and solar power. The intermittent generators would add orders of magnitude to the amount of hydro storage capacity required.
    The ZCA 2020 plan envisages lower daily peak demand, so less hydro would be used for that purpose. In addition CSP should be able to handle hourly changes in demand( because of thermal storage). Only about half of the 5GW of hydro is being used to provide peak demand( 2.3GW snowy and 500MW-1000MW of TAS) together with 2.2GW of pumped hydro. Much more of TAS hydro could be used for both short term and long ( seasonal) fluctuations because almost no TAS hydro is used for irrigation and they have 2 years storage(16,000GWh). In the Snowy, Blowering has sufficient capacity to store summer irrigation and in time this is likely to be reduced to allow greater environmental flows. Movement of 240,000ML between Tantangara(or Eucumbene) and Blowering every few weeks in winter would not change what would be available to be released during summer.
    The need for back-up solar is seasonal manly June and July. Running all hydro at 80% for 2 months(4GWx24 x60= 6,000GWh) is going to use about half of the yearly 12,000GWh output, which is OK, because for most of the rest of the year peak demand can be met by either wind or solar. Its even better if some major storage dams can be re-charged by pumped hydro.

  179. There is said to be an impending world shortage of phosphate and the phosphate cycle may be one of the first “planetary boundaries” to be reached

    I’m as skeptical of this as I am about other non-fossil fuel ‘peak’ scenarios. There are vast, multi-billion ton resources in the Georgina Basin that have only begun to be exploited (Duchess etc), with recent discoveries (e.g. Wonarah) indicating there’s more out there yet. Ultimately, the law of conservation of matter must kick in at some point.

  180. Response to Peter Lang’s post on Transmission costs.

    The scenario to be costed is as follows:
    Wind power stations are located predominantly along the southern strip of Australia from Perth to Melbourne.

    Wind power stations are actually envisioned to be located from Geraldton to Melbourne and along the NSW highlands and along the QLD highlands to Cairns. Wind power should also we located in TAS. If the split was WA(30%) SA(15) VIC (15) NSW(15) QLD (15), TAS(10) this would take advantage of geographical spread and location to demand. The ZCA plan has a little less wind in WA.

    Solar thermal power stations, each with their own on-site energy storage, are distributed throughout our deserts, mostly in the east-west band across the middle of the continent.
    The ZCA2020 proposal has one (9%)CSP located north of Perth, one east of Perth, one at Pt Augusta, one Broken Hill, one Mildura, 3 in NE NSW, 2 near Charlotville, one at Longreach and one North Longreach. In all WA (17%), SA(8.5%), VIC(8.5%), NSW(33%), QLD (33%)

    All power (25GW) must be able to be provided by any region.

    If the CSP/ wind mix was 50:50 would have WA(23.5%) and QLD(24%) so could say QLD and WA together must be able to provide all power or SA, VIC,NSW and TAS together must be able to supply all power. The exception would be the 5GW hydro and 9GW(27/45 x15 scaling to 27GW demand) biomass back-up which could all be located in SE states. This more closely reflects the likely distribution of wind and CSP there being little value in building all CSP at 23 latitude where it would be remote from infrastructure. Hydro and any pumped hydro would have to be located in SE.

    If we include WA as having 2GW demand, SA 1.5GW, TAS 1.0GW, QLD 3.5GW, NSW 10.5GW, VIC 8.5GW would have 27GW demand.

    We’ll base the costs on building a trunk transmission system from Perth to Sydney, with five north-south transmission lines linking from the solar thermal regions at around latitude 23 degrees. The Perth to Sydney trunk line is 4,000 km and the five north-south lines average 1000 km each.
    The Perth to Sydney trunk would still be needed to transport up to half of the 7.5GW needed by SE (SE demand 21.5 GW less 14GW backup(5GW hydro, 9GW biomass or NG). This would be 3.75GW x4000km. When SE must supply all demand in WA will require 2GW so 3.75GW would be adequate but perhaps 4GW would be better. The trunk would probably be Perth to Snowy via Pt Augusta ( a little less than 4,000 km x4GW)and feed into Sydney and Melbourne together with hydro by upgrading existing lines from Snowy. Adelaide would take off power from Pt Augusta, and TAS directly from local hydro.
    The other half of power would come from central QLD requiring 3.75GW x 3000Km also adequate to supply average demand in QLD. If we say 5GW to accommodate peak demand. Going via Brisbane to Sydney (3,000km x5GW) . Total trunks 22,000GW.km . If for arguments sake we say all of this comes from WA would be only slightly higher( by 4,000GW.km)

    If CSP is providing 13GW av and wind 13GW av, would expect 1.1GW/ CSP location so feeder distances would be 1000km Canarvon to Perth, <100km Kalgoorlie, <100Km Pt Augusta, 300km for both Mildura and Broken Hill and <200Km for NE NSW and Central QLD CSP for a total 2500km x 1.1GW. Wind feeder distances would be only about half these distances but have to accept twice peak output so would be similar (2,700 GW.km) for 5,400GW.km. total feeder

    Add 1,000 km to distribute to Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane. Total line length is 10,000km. All lines must carry 25GW.
    Feeder lines would not need to carry 25GW, so would be 4000km x25GW=100,000GW.km plus 5,000 km feeder lines 1GW(5,000GW.km) plus 1000km feeders to cities av 6GW(6,000GW.km) OR 111,000GW.km by Peters original scenario ( after correcting for feeder lines), about $80Billion

    Using Peter Langs cost of $2million/3.2GW.km, would have 22,000GW.km trunk and 5,400GW.km feeders for approx 27,400 GW.km x$2million/3.2GW.km=16Billion.

    This is an order of magnitude lower than the 180Billion Peter is suggesting, and one fifth the 80Billion cost where feeder lines have been reduced from 25GW to 1.1GW.

    Why would a 25GW, 4000km trunk line be built from Perth to Sydney at a cost of 3Billion/GW when 8.5GW of pumped hydro can be built for $13billion about half the cost?

  181. Wheat straw is already heavily involved in the nutrient cycle via its use as a growing medium for mushrooms and for bedding in horse stables. Apparently all of it then gets used directly in horticulture or is added to commercial mulches. Most of the phosphorous would be in the wheat grain that is harvested separately then passes through animal guts.. chickens, cows, humans. One day we might have to put sewage sludge on wheat crops except it will be bulky and contain metal salts and pharmaceuticals.

    The old practice of in situ burning of wheat stubble is discouraged as ash blows away and reduces moisture retention but it contains little phosphorus. I see major problems ahead for wheat growing unless
    we bulldoze some suburbs and grow the grain close to railway lines and sewage pipes. ZCA seem to think that straw is of low value but once again we find that most material waste already has essential uses. That is; most waste isn’t.

  182. Peter and John
    Another thought occured to me last night. ZCA is proposing to take biomass from wheat crops, peletise it, transport it to the solar power stations and then burn it. Won’t doing this continually over decades deplete the nutrients from the soil where the crops are being grown?
    More than 90% of nutrients are in the grain, and are presently being exported to Asia and Middle east. Yes we are depleting nutrients. Transporting biomass would be problematic except if used at Pt Augusta, Mildura, Moore, Dubbo, Bourke as these are very close to major wheat growing. Some wheat also in central QLD.. Kalgoorlie could use Mallie tree plantations.

  183. By the way, something has been niggling me a little. I’ve been looking at their map of all the power stations, transmissions etc. One question I have is :

    What about Darwin in the NT? I dont see anything up there? What are they going to be using?

  184. Some interesting quotes from ZCA on p118 re costs associated with existing fossil fuel generators :

    “A complete switch to renewable energy will leave the
    owners of fossil fuel infrastructure with stranded assets.
    The economic models do not include provisions for
    any compensation payments. The question of financial
    compensation to generators is a political one that is not
    addressed in this report however two points are made.
    Firstly, many fossil fuel power plants in Australia will be
    at least 40 years old and due for replacement during the
    time of the transition4. Given the age of these assets, they
    are fully depreciated5. Secondly, when many of these assets
    were privatised and purchased by the current owners,
    climate change and its implications for fossil fuel power
    generation were a known business risk. due diligence by
    the purchasers of these assets at the time of acquisition
    would therefore have alerted them to the risk of these
    assets becoming stranded.”

    OK, so what about the new gas plants currently being built (some of which will be backing up wind) etc. Do ZCA not realise that the likes of AGL, Origin etc are all fossil fuel power station builders & owners.

  185. Peter Lang
    Excuse me. Where has the wind power gone?(16July2020)
    http://windfarmperformance.info/
    Did it really drop to almost zero by midnight last night?
    Just looking back over what happened from 16July to 18 July, that low front that was in WA when SE Australia had no wind arrived about 36h later giving 1100MW with SA at near 100% capacity. I dont have the figures for WA wind power on 16th July but a good guess is that they would have been generating at >75% of capacity. In fact the low wind event seems to be traveling at about 1500km/day so a spacing of wind farms >1500km would likely be large enough to prevent low wind events. The present concentration of 80% of NEM sites within 800km is just too close to avoid low wind events. Fortunately Australia is X5 larger longitude spread and X20 that of Ireland or Denmark.

  186. John Newlands for your info sewage sludge is used on wheat farms now. Two years ago as part of my work I had to visit a farmer near Moora just north of Perth and he was spreading sewage sludge on his property. The results were spectacular as he has almost twice the wheat yield of his neighbours.

  187. Regarding environmental issues being left out of this report. It is very alarming to see calls for “ramping-up”, “Fast Tracking” planning decisions, quick political decisions etc. This kind of action has very serious environmental consequences.

    Particularly given that we know without any doubt (and despite wind industry & government spin) that industrial scale renewables like wind are NOT COMPLETELY ENVIRONMENTALLY BENIGN.

    Just to clarify :

    In NSW the Part 3A planning laws have downgraded “critical infrastructure” to 30MW (nameplate! !! ), Fast Tracked planning decisions to 3 months, reduced public exhibition & commenting / submissions times to 30 DAYS, removed planning application fees etc. this is in addition to renewable energy credits, etc. and any further gov help in the pipeline.

    ** BUT, one thing that needs really driving home to people is that so-called critical infrastructure projects mean there is NO RIGHT OF APPEAL TO THE LAND AND ENVIRONMENT COURT. Once the decision is made, that is it, period, full stop! Dream on if you think you can take the developers to court, absolutely no way!

  188. Neil :

    ” Fortunately Australia is X5 larger longitude spread and X20 that of Ireland or Denmark.”

    Unfortunately that also means we need to build and pay for all that extra powerline & management.

    Also unfortunately, as you can see, the Dept of Planning and the wind developers are also not meteorologists.

  189. Neil Howes, I don’t know if you are just playing difficult or genuinely don’t understand. But it is too difficult to explain this to you on the blog site. I spent ages trying on previous threads and still it seems you dont understand the basics. I am worn out trying. I may try again later, but for now I am exhausted.

  190. Neil,

    In addition European lulls are much larger than Ireland, UK or Denmark :

    “Wind output in Britain can be very low at the moment of maximum annual UK demand (e.g. 2 February 2006); these are times of cold weather and little wind. Simultaneously, the wind output in neighbouring countries can also be very low and this suggests that intercontinental transmission grids to neighbouring countries will be difficult to justify. ”

    Oswald, J., Raine, M. and Hezlin, A., “Will British weather provide reliable electricity?” Energy Policy 36(8), August 2008, pages 3212-3225 available at :

    http://www.windaction.org/documents/18480

    This recent paper by Oswald et al into the effectiveness and reliability of industrial wind turbine power demonstrates the poor ability of wind to produce reliable electricity, poor smoothing of wind output due to geographic diversity, “highly volatile” output energy swings, and the need for better carbon cost calculations for wind due to fossil backup emissions.

    also for a quick overview :

    Oswald Consulting (2006) “25GW of Distributed Wind on the UK Electricity System“

    Engineering assessment carried out for Renewable Energy Foundation and overview of results presented in the Oswald et al 2008 paper mentioned above. Available on line at :

    http://www.ref.org.uk/Files/ref.wind.smoothing.08.12.06.pdf

  191. Some other things to consider before building all those extra transmission lines & wind capacity :

    In Chapter 11 (Australia and New Zealand) of the IPCC Working Group II Contribution to the 4th Assessment Report “Climate Change 2007 – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” it is worth noting the following in Section 11.4.10 Energy on page 523 :

    “Climate change is likely to affect energy infrastructure in Australia and New Zealand through impacts of severe weather events on wind power stations, electricity transmission and distribution networks”.

    Later in the same section an assessment of potential risks for Australia found, among other risks, that :

    “increased peak and average temperatures are likely to reduce electricity generation efficiency, transmission line capacity, transformer capacity and the life of switchgear and other components”.

    Other studies have shown that there is also the potential for climate change to impact directly on wind resource : Sailor, D.J., M. Smith, and M. Hart, 2008. “Climate change implications for wind power resources in the Northwest United States,” Renewable Energy, 33 (11), pages 2393-2406.

    This paper concludes that wind generated electricity in the area studied could be reduced by up to 40% through climate change. This research builds on their earlier study :

    Breslow, P., and D.J. Sailor, (2002) “Vulnerability of Wind Power Resources to Climate Change in the Continental United States”, Renewable Energy, 27 (4), pages 585-598.

    In this work they estimate a 1% to 3.2% reduction in wind speeds in the area studied over the next 50 years, and a 1.4% to 4.5% reduction over the next 100 years. As you’ll be aware, turbine power output is greatly affected by any small change in wind speed on the power curve, so even small reductions in future wind speeds can have a significant effect on maintaining industrial wind turbine power station viability.

    The more you overbuild, the more there is to go wrong and the MORE IT WILL COST.

    I agree with Peter, we do seem to be going round in circles with some of this. We’ve already shown so many holes in the ZCA plan do we really need to go on with issues of hydro backup when the wind / solar part (i.e. all the main generation capacity) is clearly unachievable in any case, and is not as ZCA claim “commercially available”. In addition much of it is clearly still in the pilot stage.

  192. I found the following in World Nuclear News

    New plant gets go-ahead in China
    A two-reactor nuclear power plant at Fangchenggang in autonomous Guangxi province has been approved by Chinese officials. Having already completed site preparation, project lead China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation is expected to officially start construction later in July and put the reactors into operation in 2015 and 2016. Fangchenggang will feature two domestically developed CPR-1000 units producing 1037 MWe each for a grand total of 24 billion yuan ($3.5 billion), with four more planned to follow. It is expected that 80% of the components will be sourced from Chinese suppliers

    I assume the dollars are $US but still a cheap price.

  193. We need a list of the most important criticisms of the SCA2020 Plan. Does anyone what to volunteer?

    I suggest the most important criticisms are:

    1. The highest cost component of the proposed plan, CST, has never even been demonstrated. It is vapourware

    2. The wind power component is based on the assumption that wind can provide 15% firm power. There is no evidence to show this is achievable, or even close.

    3. The assumed build rates are not achievable. The CST is unlikely to be a mature tecnology in less than two or threee decades, based on the progress that has been made over the past two decades and the time it takes for new technologies to progress to ‘mature’ in the technology life cycle.

    4. The biomass backup component is not viable and would need to be replaced with gas firing – if the CST ever became commercially viable.

    5. The total cost would appear to be somewhere between $1 and $3 trillion, not the $370 billion that the SCA plan claims.

  194. The ZCA plan would cost in the order of 10 times as much as nuclear to do the same job (ZCA Plan 1 to 3 trillion versus nuclear round up to say $200 million.

    So, if the demand turns out to be higher than in the ZCA plan the cost difference between nuclear and ZCA plan will be even greater.

    For example, if the demand is twice as high as ZCA assumes, the ZCA plan would cost $2 to $6 trillion versus $400 billion for nuclear.

  195. I left ot what are possible the two most important issues for the ZCA plan;

    6. Reliable supply – the ZCA Plan does not include a Loss of Load Probability analysis. If it did, the plan wold fail (by a long way)

    7. Health and Safety – the health and safety issues created by the proposed ZCA2020 system will sink this project on its own. The safety of workers constructing these structures throughout remote areas and the ongoing health and safety of the operators (long travelling distances in the outback and working on high structures cleaning glass surfaces) will result in many accidents. Furthermore, the huge funding required for this system (about ten times the cost of nuclear) will take funding that would otherwise be spent on public health (hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses, ambulances, paramedics, etc) as well as other areas in need of government funding such as Education, infrastructure, public transport and Environment).

  196. Peter, some other brief key points :

    i) Modelling is flawed (calling it a model is being generous). e.g. wind assumption based on a single hypothetical study from poor quality BoM data. Data from 9 SA wind farms simply scaled up and assumed to represent entire country. The “model” is for a mere 2 years, takes no account of inter-annual variability or “real world” variation with location. Model should be 10 years at minimum, pref 20 years to cover transition period and then independent operation.

    ii) Add @ $3.7billion (as a minimum) for wind decommissioning, Solar decom costs unknown…? without decom life cycle assessment is invalid / unknown

    iii) No environmental assessment / consideration which would clearly affect location of generators / powerlines + without env assessment true life cycle assessment is invalid / unknown

    iv) 7.5MW wind turbines specified still in “pilot project”

    v) Wind build rates are roughly double those specified by ZCA

    vi) NT, Alice Springs, and parts of WA and west Queensland i.e. remainder of Australia that is not part of NEM are not included. What will the additional costs for this area be?

    vii) No costs estimate for loss taken by retired fossil fuel generators.

  197. bryen,

    Thank you for those additional points. Could you give an estimate for the cost increase and/or delay each would cause so we can see how these rank with the others. I feel we need to focus on the main items that make the ZCA Plan a no go. To me the real clinchers are the much higher cost, the long delay until the technology might be available, and the fact that even then it will not provide a reliable power supply.

  198. Bryen and others, you said the power tower is 280 meters tall and produces about 200 MW and uses molten salt storage. I do not think these things are compatible. For example you could place a 200 MW generator at the top of the tower and transmit the power by wire down the tower but then there would be no salt storage. Also, the weight of the generator would make the cost of the tower unacceptable.

    If you placed the 200 MW generator at the base of the tower and used a vertical heat pipe 280 meters long, the losses and pumping load as well as the high pressure from gravity are probably going to make the design impractical. This usually happens when a concept has not been thoroughly thought out and designed (and tested).

  199. Gene,

    Excellent point, I wondered why I couldn’t find a real one anywhere …

    The 280metres is from the ZCA document e.g. p45, p46, p57 but I can’t see any reference to further info / research.

  200. ps :

    regarding decom. arguably both the wind and solar decom costs are unknown. the wind figure is an absolute minimum, a generous ball park. the costs were based on steel tower turbines in the USA, the Enercon E-126 is concrete tower.

    biomass decom costs are also unknown, again affects any life cycle assessment.

    not sure how this relates to hydro?

    re the modelling. Also add that there is not a single reference in this chapter (Part 4), well its only 7 pages…!! The modelling has clearly not undergone any serious / independent peer review at all.

  201. That’s a very good point, Gene. I’d actually always thought these molten salt storage designs were trough collectors. I’d not heard of any based on a tower design.

  202. Peter :

    “Could you give an estimate for the cost increase and/or delay each would cause so we can see how these rank with the others. I feel we need to focus on the main items that make the ZCA Plan a no go.”

    Some quick additional thoughts :

    Wind modelling : 21 to 39 months of resource monitoring with real monitoring towers at each wind site. Then do the wind modelling. Due to large scale nature of project anything less than 39 months monitoring would be very unwise. Then process data and prepare the reports, so lets say 3.5 to 4 years. Cost unknown, but this is part of the normal costings in any case.

    ***Time here is the key issue, they can’t do this quicker if they want the big money funding, its that simple. The other key issue as already mentioned : without this wind monitoring tower data and the creation of a proper, quantifiable 20 year wind energy yield, their “model” isn’t worth the paper its written on, certainly not for any serious funding. And as they are asking for VERY serious funding, they’ll have to do this first.***

    Environmental Assessment, I would say at least a year, particularly in relation to wildlife monitoring this would have to be year to account for each season. The choice here is whether to do this in parallel with resource monitoring, in which case time frames are not really affected. One of the clinchers here is finding an endangered species (flora or fauna) which will probably shoot the plan down, or at least make it very unpopular. ZCA haven’t done this at all. The sites specified by ZCA (wind and solar) are therefore totally hypothetical.

    So ZCA’s regarding wind build time, they say 2 to 5 years, this clearly should be 5 to 10 years based on Australian (& overseas) experience so far, even with the recent fast track laws. The “implementation time” clock doesn’t start ticking when the first shovel hits dirt, which they seem to be suggesting.

    Another key thing to remember here is that once permission is granted, developers get 3 to 5 years before legal requirement to build. This is a classic tactic in the industry and enables them to watch the turbine market to try and get cheapest price or sit on the project to on-sell, or while they try and get funding (which may have been secured earlier of course). I posted on this in one of the other thread’s some time back, can’t rem which, I provided a ref to an Energy Policy paper which describes the tactic, called “develop and delay” (Ozzy author from ANU).

    Enercon 7.5MW turbines : Estimate 2014 for end of pilot, then tool up and manufacture..@2015. hmmm would we really want to cover the rest of the country with the new kid on the block turbine, straight after the pilot or maybe tread a little carefully ?? Cost for this turbine are still unknown.

    No idea regarding non-NEM costs. Total NT electrical capacity (According to AER State of the Energy Market 2009 report) was 444MW as of June 2008, but also gas, electrifying transport, powerline upgrades etc… i.e. all those things that ZCA plan requires ??? gut feeling is this could be quite an ommission. Suggest someone maybe have a look at this issue.

    No idea on fossil fuel retiring costs.

  203. Peter Lang,
    I can understand your frustration, I did spend some time trying to point out some obvious flaws to your 25GW transmission scenario, for example why would feeder lines from a 1-2GW CSP or wind farm need 25GW capacity? You seem to be ignoring regional demand in assuming that 25GW is going to be moved from Perth to Sydney.

    Of all of the statements you have made this one seems to misrepresent what the ZCA 2020 plan was saying and the hydro storage capacity in Australia
    Adding intermittent generators on top of the fluctuating demand would require a lot more balancing capacity. We do not have anywhere near enough hydro capacity to back up for intermittent wind and solar power. The intermittent generators would add orders of magnitude to the amount of hydro storage capacity required.
    The ZCA plan is only relying on 1500GWh of hydro storage( 12% of yearly hydro production). At lot of the short term fluctuation in wind is being balanced by CSP storage and load shedding in summer. The ZCA plan is assuming 5GW of hydro is available for at most a few weekly periods in winter ( about 400-800GWh at any one time) 3-6% of yearly hydro demand).
    You have provided details of several pumped hydro schemes that could increase today’s 15GWh storage to 500-3000GWh storage, so even if X10 to 50 todays pumped hydro storage was needed that is not an unrealistic amount and is much less than the 22,000GWh existing hydro storage, in fact only 3% not “orders of magnitude higher”

  204. Bryen
    Wind modelling : 21 to 39 months of resource monitoring with real monitoring towers at each wind site. Then do the wind modelling. Due to large scale nature of project anything less than 39 months monitoring would be very unwise.

    I think this data has been collected for the >25 operating wind sites as well as for the >25 wind sites in planning stages. If this does not cover all regions being anticipated it would at least allow the first 4-5 years construction, adding more turbines to some of the existing farms and building more at sites already in advanced planning stages.

    The modeling of nation wide wind power , especially firm power credit would need to be done before an EW grid extension, but it could be done using available wind data as is being planned by oz-wind site. It would really only be an issue when wind accounts for >20% of NEM grid power.

  205. “I think this data has been collected for the >25 operating wind sites as well as for the >25 wind sites in planning stages. If this does not cover all regions being anticipated it would at least allow the first 4-5 years construction, adding more turbines to some of the existing farms and building more at sites already in advanced planning stages.

    The modeling of nation wide wind power , especially firm power credit would need to be done before an EW grid extension, but it could be done using available wind data as is being planned by oz-wind site. It would really only be an issue when wind accounts for >20% of NEM grid power.”

    You seem to be proposing that construction begin without the planning and assessment being completed. This is insane.

  206. No Neil, they state it is for 9 SA wind farms, they do not even state which wind farms.

    ZCA report Part 4 (modelling) p82 :

    “NEM wind energy data is converted from 9 existing wind farms in South Eastern Australia to hourly capacity factors.”

  207. Comment on Neil Howes’ post of 20 July 2010 at 13:59:

    Neil,
    The present concentration of AEMO-recorded windfarms happens to lie across a larger geographic span that that of the 14 of those proposed in the ZCA report that I identified as producing zero output under the type of synoptic event of 16 to 18 July . We can be quite certain therefore that those 14 wfs similarly would be delivering no output. I suggest that this scenario was not contemplated in the ZCA modelling. Also, it occurs frequently. Your “a good guess” and “would likely be large enough” statements there, are not good enough reasons to justify your proposal of a somewhat larger span than proposed in the ZCA as being sufficient, in the light of the complete failure by the ZCA modelling to capture such an event that takes out the bulk of their proposed wind generation capacity. A much more cautious approach is warranted, surely? Neil, unlike the ZCA proposal, you have (a) looked at real data that is available for only a part of the region and (b) you have identified a need for a greater spacing of windfarms as a result. The next step is, I suggest, the more prudent: to seek a modified proposal, based on a worst-case, not best-case, scenario, and to seek that it provides detailed costings. I think you will find that if this exercise is followed through properly, that more than the present 23 windfarms in the ZCA proposal will be required, that also greater transmission capacity over larger distances will be required. Each of these components results in a drastic escalation in what are already truly staggering project costs, with still no certainty that the baseload requirement will be met. I note too that you have yet to acknowledge the staggering environmental impact of the ZCA proposal.

  208. The location of the pumps, steam generator and electricity generator plus the storage tanks are all at ground level (see Fig 2.2 on page 49). The only thing on top of the tower is the solar receiver.

    Gene why do you think that a 280m vertical heat pipe would be a problem? With engineered geothermal we are talking of vertical heat pipes which could be 5 km. Admittedly these are in the ground so have some natural insulation but heat pipes in a large parabolic system must run to kms as well.

  209. Peter Lang
    RE Capacity factor for wind

    These pick the best. Instead, I’d suggest using reliable data from authoritative sources like IEA and EIA actual statistics and the actual energy supplied by wind in the grids such as US,
    EIA figures show for 2008, wind generated 55,306GWh. Capacity was 16,500MW at beginning, additions of 2.8GW, 1.4GW, 1.4GW and 3.6GW at end of each quarter, so additions weighted for time available in 2008 assuming no start-up issues would be 3.1GW so 19.6GW effective installed capacity. 55,306/19.6=2,806GWh/GW capacity div by 8760h/year=30%. This includes some wind farms built in 1980’s that are not operating or at very low capacity and smaller turbines built in 1990’s. DOE’s 20%wind energy report gives pre 1998 turbines av 20% capacity, and 2004-5 turbines av 34% capacity.

  210. Neil,

    Is the figure you have calculated in agreement with published IEA & EIA figures for the USA capacity factor.

    Anyway, it is the worst case scenario that is most important.

    Even more importantly, would this effect any of the main problems we have shown about the ZCA report? No.

  211. Martin Nicholson,

    The depth of the geothermal wells is not a significant issue for geothermal. The intermal pressure is little more than hydrostatic (10/kPa per meter depth) where as the exterrnal pressure is at least the same (hydrostatic). The exteranl pressure on the casing due to internall stress in the rock will support any internal pressurer you try to put inside the pipe (up to about three times hydrostatice). That will never happen. There is a short distance near surface, and abovce surface, where the pipe needs to be designed for internal pressure that exceeds external pressure.

    So the geothermal comparison is irrelevant. The 280m high tower with salt filled pipes does need to be designed to manage the pressure – which I expect may be 2 to 2.5 times hydrostatic pressure (about 6MPa pressure, equivalent to 600 m depth in water.

    Can anyone verify that the design, and cost estimate, allow for this pressure?

  212. I think we are tending to lose sight of the main issues. Certainly, it would be unreasonable to expect the ZCA report to be at the stage of picking sites or attempting detailed enviromental assessment reports t this stage. The things that are important to check are the main assumptions that underpin their analysis. We are getting off the main track. Here are a few things we need to sort out:

    1. What is the minimum annual capacity factor for wind power in grids with large aereal extent (such as the US, Europe and Australia grids?)

    2. What is the minimum capacity factor actually recorded for wind power over 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 30, 50 days in these grids?

    3. What is the lowest ‘firm power’ experienced on any of these grids?

    4. What evidence is there that Australia would be much better than experience elsewhere?

    5. What transmission capacity is needed to achieve the ZCA assumptions for wind firm power and wind energy (quite different requirements) given that we have accepted that one or two geographic regions would have to be able to provide all the expected power and energy when the remainder of the wind farms are becalmed. For example, South West WA would have to provide all the power and all the energy at times.

    6. Is the concept of Solar Thermal Tower with 17 hours storage DOA (dead on arrival)?

    7. Are the ZCA unit costs realistic?

    8. Are the ZCA assumptions for the generating capacities for wind and solar realistic (for their assumed level of demand)?

    9. Is the ZCA demand profile realistic? (this is not a deal breaker; it just means that the cost will be higher if demand is higher (peak or average demand)demand is higher?

    10. What is the likely cost?

    11. What is the likely time to complete implementation of ther ZCA plan

  213. On energy supply adequacy it was pointed out earlier by Martin Nicholson that ZCA thinks we can get by with 70% less energy than estimated by ABARE. That’s for electrical generation, process heat and transport combined. ZCA says 325 Twh per year will cover everything but ABARE reckons 3915 PJ a year or around 1100 Twh.

    325 Twh per year is about 37 GW continuous average but that includes 100% electric transport, replacement for gas heating and apparently even steel smelting. Whether that 70% energy cut in a decade can be attributed to efficiency or deprivation it is simply inconceivable.

  214. Martin you stated “Gene why do you think that a 280m vertical heat pipe would be a problem?”

    There would be heat loss from the long pipe, and there would be a pumping load to maintain circulation. I think the pumping load and heat loss together would lower the overall efficiency to the point of not being a feasible system design. To reduce the pumping load you would make the pipe larger which would increase heat loss. My engineering instinct tells me its not going to work. But you can prove me wrong by showing that these losses are insignificant. The authors of the 280 meter high solar tower should have already done that analysis and put that in their report. Did they?

  215. Where has that damned wind gone again?

    18 wind farms, total 1609MW, spread over an area 1200km by 800km and what is the output?

    40 MW (5% capacity factor) by midnight last night.

    “Firm power” seems to be near 0 fairly frequently in the NEM!

    If Australia’s best regions for wind can’t produce the goods, what chance the other areas.

    Wind power is a scam. The sooner we realise it the better off we’ll be. Then we can actually focus on solutions that will work, and not cot us the Earth for no result!!!

  216. Gene,

    I’m still having trouble finding out if anyone has actually built one of these Solar 220 (217MW) towers. Torresol Gemasolar are currently building a 17MW one, which according to the ZCA report (p49) is “the third step in the scale-up to the Sandia/Sunlab specified Solar 220 MW”.

    One wonders how many more steps there are to go between 17MW and 217MW before Jan 2011, or Dec 2020?

    Also see ZCA report p47 table 3.2, confusingly called “Molten Salt Power Tower History” it says :

    “2008-2010 Construction of Torresol’s Gemasolar tower near Ecija, Spain — 17 MW with 15 hours of molten salt storage (~75% capacity factor)”

    “2010 – Scheduled ground-breaking for SolarReserve’s 50MW power tower in Spain (~70% capacity factor), and 100 MW plant in Nevada with 10 hours storage”

    When I was at school, history was something that had already happened, and the term “future” was generally reserved for stuff that was expected after the “present”. When they say “ground breaking” do they mean drilling the holes for the heliostats?

    I suppose my question then is, apart from the 10MW Solar Two, which has since been decommissioned and turned into a telescope for the University of Davis, are there any of these power towers currently even built, and if so what is their status / spec etc?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Solar_Project

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_tower

    wikipedia (for what its worth) gives current installed power tower action as :

    Sierra SunTower 5MW United States eSolar
    PS20 solar power tower 20MW Spain Abengoa
    Solar Tres Power Tower 17MW Spain Sener
    PS10 solar power tower 11MW Spain Abengoa

    Unfortunately the yearly production values in the wikipedia table are blank…

    I am very doubtful of ZCA providing 42,500 MW of CST plant to provide 60% of Australia’s electricity needs. The “worlds most powerful” at the moment being the PS20 and that went on-line on 27 April 2009, it has a 165m tower. The PS-10 has a 115m tower :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS20_solar_power_tower

    &

    http://www.power-technology.com/projects/Seville-Solar-Tower/

    what seems to be going on now in Seville, Spain is they are claiming to be building a 300MW solar power tower, but what this actually means is they build a load of small ones to make it into 300MW, probably because of the problems of a really tall tower, and insist on calling it a tower instead of “towers”. Very confusing, the penny finally dropped.

    “The 11MW PS10 solar power plant generates 24.3GW/hr per year of clean energy. It has 624 heliostats that track the sun, each with a 120m² surface area parabolic mirror. The mirrors are focused on a 115m tower, heating water pipes that provide 200m² of water-cooled energy exchange surface area. The thermal energy produces steam, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. During the day the power drives the air conditioners that cool buildings in Seville.”

    *I find the last sentence a little hard to believe!

    “PS20 has twice the PS10 output (20MW), with 1,255 two-axis sun tracking heliostats driving 120m² mirrors. These mirrors concentrate solar radiation onto the receiver on top of a 165m tower. The tower follows the same technology as that of PS10 for electricity generation.”

    “PS20 represents second generation technology with important improvements to receiver and other critical elements. Features include control and operational systems enhancements, improved thermal energy storage system and a higher efficiency receiver.”

    “Heat is also stored as steam to allow generation at half load for an hour or longer after dark. This is a relatively short storage time, partially because the tower uses water rather than molten salt for heat storage. The water is held in thermally clad tanks and reaches temperatures of 250°C – 255°C (instead of around 600°C for systems using salt). Solucar has opted for water to reduce fatigue on the system components and to ensure simplicity and robustness for the project.”

    Now this project in Seville is claimed to be a 300MW project, with estimated completion of 2013, and estimated investment of **Euro 1,200m** (but there are no details on the cost or how it relates to what has been built and the remaining 270MW that still needs to be built to make a 300MW power station. In fact the info on this project is very scarce, I am hoping someone can locate some more ???

    Anyway, the ZCA report does claim a 280m tower for the its technology of choice, the non-existent Solar 220 as I ref’d in an earlier comment.

    The figures being thrown around at power-technology site are somewhat confusing though. Why is it so difficult for CST people to give out basic specs ???

    OK, ZCA report requires 12 x 3500MW CST power stations

    So assuming that we go for something that exists (only just, i.e. only 1 of each have been built so far) :

    PS-10 (115m tower) would need 350 built at each of the 12 locations = 4200 CSP units total

    OR

    PS-20 (165m tower) would need 175 built at each of the 12 locations = 2100 CSP units total

    or a combination of these. + of course ZCA are specifying molten salt storage which the PS10/20’s dont have. However, PS10/20 do have the advantage that one of each type actually exist, unlike the Torresol or the SolarReserve systems the first of which are yet to be completed.

    Note, as the PS20 is supposedly twice the size and is 20MW, I am assuming the PS10 is 10MW and the press release that says 11MW is incorrect. It keeps the figures easier.

    I trust I am not alone in feeling somewhat uneasy about the prospect of 60% of Australia’s electricity supply (including transport etc!) transitioning to this technology by 2020.

    Peter & everyone, thanks for doing a great job here, I have had a brief window of time to do my comments on this thread, but sadly I’m out of time for a while at least. Its been fun, and I’ll continue to monitor the thread and maybe comment a little. Funnily enough I’m actually more interested in researching the concentrating solar power stuff than the wind stuff, but them’s the breaks. I hope what I’ve contributed will be of some help.

  217. The spec “11 MW PS10 solar power plant generates 24.3GW-hr per year of clean energy” should state the energy is 2.77 MW year per year. Then you could see the average power output is 2.77 MW and the capacity factor is 25%. If you wanted to operate this plant 24/7 then a considerable amount of energy would need to be stored. The cost for the storage system needs to be calculated. Those costs need to be based on 2.77 MW, not 11 MW, when stating the overall $/kW cost of a base loaded solar plant. The economics are just not going to work out for base loaded solar. The reason you are not finding specific information on these base loaded solar plants is because their cost is so high and their performance is so low that the data is not being published on for a reason, because the truth is just too hard for the solar believers to accept.

  218. Peter, sorry I missed that info you posted earlier about the NEEDS report on solar, my head was buried in the wind stuff. I’ll download and look at it, should be an interesting read.

  219. Hi bryen,

    thank you for your comments and research. You, Gene, Charles Barton and others have prodded this discussion towards some reality really well. Hopefully others will take up the load if you have to back off just a little :) But hope you keep interested.

    The real question that we’ll have to think about soon is, how do we assemble the most important information in a way that will be interesting to the widest possible audience? We need to get this information out soon before Australia gets saddled with commitments, during our current election campaign, to these things as THE solution to all our problems.

  220. Concerning the report at http://www.needs-project.org/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf

    I would only rate the power output level of a solar base loaded plant as the average MW based on 24/7 operation. To get this number calculate its MW-yr per year energy production and then use the MW value as the average plant capacity. You can do the same for nuclear or any other base loaded plant. But at least this puts them all on the same basis.

    Then if you do that, the cost figures on page 11 are suspect because I think they are based on a higher plant MW output, making the numbers lower than they actually are. Also its interesting that the solar tower plant costs are twice those of the solar trough.

    Why would you base the large scale deployment on a solar plant design than another solar plant design that uses the same real estate and costs only half the power tower design? Its illogical.

    On page 22 and the following pages is some discussion about scaling upward the different plant designs. The authors seem to be completely unaware that the solar power tower has this terrible problem with the tower cost versus height. You know that the cost of a boat is proportional to the cube of its length and I bet the cost of the power tower cost is also proportional to the cube of its height. There is no economy of scale for the power tower design.

    The rest of this report reads like a set of data that an economist would put together. There is a complete lack of engineering detail. And that is where the problems lie. The devil is lurking in the details of these solar plant designs.

  221. Gene wrote :

    “Why would you base the large scale deployment on a solar plant design than another solar plant design that uses the same real estate and costs only half the power tower design? Its illogical.”

    Might I tentatively suggest that very high solar towers, like very high wind turbines can be seen from a long way off by lots of uninformed voters… whereas the parabolic trough system is not anywhere near as visible… just my 2 cents.

    On a nice clear day Sydney is quite visible from easily as far as 100km in the Blue Mountains from my own experience.

    I’m reminded of Billy Liar having one of his day dreams in the film of the same name, when he dreams of becoming the nations leader, he is making a big & loud speech to the assembled masses, it goes something like :

    “We must rebuild our cities… !! We will build TOWERS!! TOWERS!! …no less…”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Liar

    compare that line & thought with :

    “Progressive climate policy: the case for nation building” by BZE’s Leigh Ewbank in his ABC article describing their ZCA plan at :

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2951410.htm

  222. Cimate Spectator has an article on the ZCA2020 report:

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/2020-vision?utm_source=Climate%20Spectator%20daily&utm_campaign=e91abb7313-&utm_medium=email

    A few interesting blog entries from supporters.You might like this comment:

    “The review at BraveNewClimate is mainly a couple of renewable-energy-deniers who are able to handily exxagerate their renewable costs but put blind faith in their promise of cheap nuclear, the same promise we heard 50 years ago when nuclear was going to ‘too cheap to meter’.”

    I wonder which couple he’s talking about?

  223. I’ve just signed up to Climate Spectator and attempted to leave a comment in response to Patrick Hearps, but the site seems to be down. I’m sure that this is just coincidence and that the site will soon be up and open to critical comments in the near future, but just so no one has to miss out on what I had to say on the subject, here it is:

    “The review at BraveNewClimate is mainly a couple of renewable-energy-deniers who are able to handily exxagerate their renewable costs but put blind faith in their promise of cheap nuclear, the same promise we heard 50 years ago when nuclear was going to ‘too cheap to meter’.”

    It’s easy to throw out casual smears and accusations of this kind. If you are confident of the case supporting the ZCA2020 report, you should be able to demonstrate your point by providing the figures, calculations and arguments which demonstrate why the BNC analysis is incorrect. The people who have provided that analysis have been open about their assumptions, figures and inputs. If they are wrong, Patrick Hearps should have little trouble showing why they are wrong. Until he does do, we may be justified in treating his comment with a great deal of skepticism.

  224. Gene,

    Thank you for your comments. I have to take issue with you just a little bit about the concept of using average power for either solar of wind power. I’ve been persuading the readers on this web site for a long time that it is not applicable. We must work with the minimum capacity factor. For solar with storage we want to know the minimum capacity factor the plant can produce through the worst case conditions of winter, and heavily overcast conditions. This depends on the minimum insolation, the solar multiplier (the ratio of solar receiver power to generating power – some of the excess goes to storage), and the amount of storage. The Queanbeyan Solar farm produced these actual minimum capacity factors over a 2 year period:

    0.75% for 1 day
    1.56% for 3 days
    4.33% for 5 days
    5.67% for 10 days

    At a capacity factor of 1% the generating capacity must be 100 times the average output. If we have just one day of storage, as you suggest, then the solar field output needs to be 100 times the power that must be supplied. If we want less solar field, we need more storage.

    See my comment here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/#comment-82530

    Better still, see this article on BNC: http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/

    ZCA attempts to address this issue in their modelling; what they believe is the worst case scenario is depicted in the Figures 4.1 to 4.5 (pp80-84). This shows that, at times, their entire solar capacity (42.5GW) generates no power whatsoever; e.g. on 2 and 3 June 2009. What a joke!

  225. Martin,

    The site is off line. Perhaps they don’t want any comments from BNC people!

    That would suggest the continuation of “spin over substance”.

    I prepared this reply to the comment Martin posted here.

    Patrick Hearps,

    The review at BraveNewClimate is mainly a couple of renewable-energy-deniers who are able to handily exxagerate their renewable costs but put blind faith in their promise of cheap nuclear, the same promise we heard 50 years ago when nuclear was going to ‘too cheap to meter’.

    This is an interesting defence of the ZCA2020 report by the co-lead author.

    The ZCA2020 report, rightly, advocates that Australia should cut CO2 emissions from stationary energy. We need the least cost, safest, most environmentally benign way to do so. It is irresponsible not to compare the available options, and be honest about their pros and cons.

    The ZCA2020 Plan is irresponsible.

    It proposes a solution using ‘vapourwear’ – technologies that do not exist and probably never will, yet does not consider the mature, proven technology, nuclear.

    There are no solar towers like the ones being proposed anywhere in the world. They are unlikely to ever be viable. It takes decades for technologies with long design lives (20+ years) to progress to the state of commercially mature. The solar technologies proposed are several decades from being commercially viable, if ever.

    The costs to try to build the system proposed in the ZCA report would be in the order of $1 to $3 trillion or perhaps even more, not the $370 billion claimed in the report. To put this in context the job could be done with nuclear for probably less than $200 billion. We can argue about percentage changes in this estimate of the cost of doing the job with nuclear. It may be a little higher or lower. But whatever we do with fiddling with these costs, it will still be in the order of 1/10th the costs of the renewable energy ‘vapourwear’ proposal that has no chance of doing the job.

    Those who are interested in the discussion on the ACA report might be interested in this thread. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/

    Please join in the discussion.

  226. Gene Preston,

    I would only rate the power output level of a solar base loaded plant as the average MW based on 24/7 operation.

    That is what the report does do. The figures may be wrong but the report does go through the financial calculations and the projections as they expect the energy storage technology to improve over the coming 13 years until the system is capable of providing baseload power. The report has costs per kW and cost per kWh. They have costs for solar only, hybrid and solar with storage. They have plants with different amounts of energy storage.

    The numbers may be wrong but I feel we do need to start from the position of understanding what has already been done, otherwise we will cop the sort of flak it seems the ZCA authors are writing on other sites about the BNC discussion here.

  227. The capacity factor issue confuses the comparisions between the different kinds of generation. Calculating the MW-yrs/yr is an important number that measures energy production. It gives you the MW average of that plant. If solar has only a 25% capacity factor when all its energy that can be generated is sent to the system, then its base load can be no higher than 25% of the plant rating. You would have to install four times as much capacity of that plant design to provide 24/7 base load power. Even a nuclear plant, if its best capacity factor were only 90%, i.e. it is broken 10% of the time, would have and average capacity of only 90% of its rating, and you would have to install about 11% more capacity to meet the desired base load MW.

    Note that the capacity factor of load following generation has nothing to do with this subject. Those plants are run at lower levels than full output because the load was not high enough to take all the power out of the plant. That is not a base load plant but is a mid range or could be a peaker plant. Its not base load.

    I suppose the statement “better than base load” means that the plant can operate in both base load mode and mid range mode with load following. However if you want to compare the up front cost of that plant on a consistent basis with a nuclear plant you should make the comparison on equivalent energy production of the two plant, solar and nuclear. To do that you would normalize both to the average MW level the plant runs at, i.e. the MW-yr per yr figure.

  228. Gene Preston,

    I didn’t make the point very well in my last post. The NEEDS report considers a solar thermal plant (trough and tower) with sufficient storage to enable the plant to generate 8000 hours per year at full power. That is arounf 90% capacity factor ands similar to the nuclear plant. The difference is that the nuclear plant provides reliable power on demand. The solar plant provides power when the conditions are suitable. Or more importantly, the 760 hours per year that it does not generate is not controllable. It occurs when there is overcast conditions. If many plants are under overcast conditions at the same time, as occurs across much of eastern Australia, then we have a real problem. This is the situation shown in Figures 4.1 to 4.5 in the ZCA report. None of the solar farms are generating power on 2 June. There is a deficit of 30GW.

  229. Gene Preston,

    You would have to install four times as much capacity of that plant design to provide 24/7 base load power.

    True. But all these reports do fully understand this and their analyses take this into account. This is what the solar multiplier means. They talk of solar multipliers of 2, 3 and 4 times.

    Gene, I worry that we may be discussing things that are well understood and covered in the NEEDS and ZCA reports.

    Perhaps you are right across all this and are explaining something else. Could you say if you have read the NEEDS report and the ZCA report on these matters so I can better understand where you are coming from.

  230. Gene,

    What are the stated MW and annual energy produced values? What is the cost per kw and what kw basis is that calculated on?

    Are you asking about the ZCA report or the NEEDS report? If it is the NEEFS report you’d really need to read through and follow it. They look at the state ofthe art and hwere it is heading. Thye feel it is a conservative report (I don’t) and was done as part of the ExternE project series. All the EU countries contriibuted. It has a similare level of authority as ExternE, EIA, IEA etc. As far as I am concerned it is the best report available on current costs of solar thermal (as of 2007). You’d need to look at it and understand what they’ve done. Your question would need to be far more specific before I could answer it, and that would be a matter of me goingf an looking up the relevant parts of the report – which you could do yourself. There is no point in me rewriting the report.

  231. Patrick Hearps in the comments at Climate Spectator pointed to this link ->

    http://www.ntgr8.com/Utility-Solar-Thermal-Projects.html

    which lists a bunch of solar projects including power tower’s (note the dates for the project completions, some of which are TBD).

    I’d recommend reading this page too ->

    http://www.ntgr8.com/power-towers.html

    “Though currently the system is not designed to work with storage in a baseload sense. It is anticipated that within the next 2 to 3 years large thermal storage in the 6 to 8 hour range will be available on the systems. And currently the 5 MW facility in land caster uses wet cooling which is a negative impact and factor when considering development of utility scale power tower project though dry cooling is possible it is just more expensive ants to realize that value is all in the eye of beholder which may not get recognized but is being demanded by local wildlife and open space protection organizations throughout South Eastern California.”

    Just how close the molten salt storage aspect is working then requires more digging.

  232. Further to bryen’s comment, here are the key stats for the eSoar conceptual design I have gleaned from the article linked by bryen:

    – power: 46MW

    – storage: zero now, proposed to have 6 to 8 hours storage within 2 to 3 years (i.e., included in the design, not in an actual operating plant)

    – Average annual Capacity factor: about 20% (my guess)

    – Average annual power generated: 9MW-yr/yr

    – capital cost (a guess): US$150 million

    – tower height: 50m

    – land area: 100ha

    Unit cost based on average power output: US$17 million/MW (A$20 million/MW)

    This is similar to the unit costs from the NEEDS report, as I summarised here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/#comment-83045
    and summarised here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/

  233. Thanks to those who have posted on Climate Spectator re ZCA2020. For those that don’t know this is a new website edited by Giles Parkinson.

    Giles has been writing for Business Spectator for some time and I suspect he is – shall we say – more green than yellow (or black).

    I will certainly be submitting topical op-ed pieces to his site, hoping to keep the views balanced.

  234. Bryen
    Just how close the molten salt storage aspect is working then requires more digging.

    Why would you think that molten salt storage would not work on solar towers, exactly the same technology is working on other CSP( for example Andasol-1). ?The only difference I see is potentially higher working temperatures and much less piping from collectors to storage tanks.

    CSP tower is certainly not unproven technology and molten salt storage is proven technology not sure its fair to say CSP tower with molten salt storage is “unproven” technology.

  235. Neil : the issues with molten salt are it is corrosive and therefore more expensive. I’m sure they won’t have any problems once they had a go. You must have missed this from one of my earlier comments :

    http://www.power-technology.com/projects/Seville-Solar-Tower/

    “Heat is also stored as steam to allow generation at half load for an hour or longer after dark. This is a relatively short storage time, partially because the tower uses water rather than molten salt for heat storage. The water is held in thermally clad tanks and reaches temperatures of 250°C – 255°C (instead of around 600°C for systems using salt). Solucar has opted for water to reduce fatigue on the system components and to ensure simplicity and robustness for the project.”

    Also, regarding the page that Patrick Hearps in the comments at Climate Spectator pointed to ->
    http://www.ntgr8.com/Utility-Solar-Thermal-Projects.html

    Its an impressive looking list of projects. However, I would suggest the easy way to navigate through this page is the following. In your browser window search text “tower”, make sure the window is properly sized, so you can see both the MW figure and the Status columns. Then click through each project, carefully noting the numbers & dates, I got this list as actual completed projects (anyone care to double check this) :

    Lancaster, California Sierra SunTower 5MW Power Tower eSolar, Inc. 2008

    Sanlúcar la Mayor, Spain Planta Solar 10 11MW Power Tower Abengoa Solar S.A. 2007

    Sanlúcar la Mayor, Spain Planta Solar 20 20MW Power Tower Abengoa Solar S.A. 2009

    Germany Solar Tower Julich 1.5MW Power Tower DLR, SIJ, SWJ 2009

    Targassone, France Themis 1 2MW Power Tower Electricity de France 1983

    Of the 27 tower projects listed 5 are TBD, everything else is a future date.

  236. I should qualify that last line of my previous comment, of the 27 projects, those I listed are built, 5 are TBD, everything else is a future date. But please, double check for yourself, dont take my word for it. Terresol is listed as 2010, but as far as I’m aware this is still being built.

  237. I just posted the comment below on Climate Spectator (I posting it here to keep a record in one place).

    I summarise below the key stats for the eSolar conceptual design I have gleaned from this article http://www.ntgr8.com/power-towers.html

    – power: 46MW
    – storage: zero now, proposed to have 6 to 8 hours storage within 2 to 3 years (i.e., included in the design, not in an actual operating plant)
    – Average annual Capacity factor: about 20% (my guess)
    – Average annual power generated: 9MW-yr/yr
    – capital cost (a guess): US$150 million
    – tower height: 50m
    – land area: 100ha
    – Unit cost based on average power output: US$17 million/MW (A$20 million/MW)

    This unit is similar to the unit costs from the NEEDS report, as I summarised here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/#comment-83045
    and here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020

    At $20 million/MW that would make the cost of the ZCA2020 plan around A$1.1 to $1.5 trillion. (ZCA estimate $370 billion, nuclear alternative to do the same job about $200 billion)

    And just a final reminder, the technology has never been built. It is unproven. We will have decades of development and demonstration. Pioneer projects commonly overrun the early estimates by factors of two to four. So it is likely that even this A$1 to A$1.5 trillion estimate may be an underestimate.

  238. Peter Lang
    If many plants are under overcast conditions at the same time, as occurs across much of eastern Australia, then we have a real problem. This is the situation shown in Figures 4.1 to 4.5 in the ZCA report. None of the solar farms are generating power on 2 June. There is a deficit of 30GW.

    You seem to be completely miss-interpreting these figures. CSP is generating significant power on most of June2, and the storage has not been exhausted. This model is using 10GW of biomass back-up(pink line) in combination with thermal storage, hydro and during daytime solar input. The green seems to be energy coming from back-up thermal storage. They go on to conclude it would be better to have 15GW of biomass capacity, because storage was almost exhausted ( using SE located wind farms in model).

    In this example the biomass is fired when the reservoir drops
    below 8 hours storage (about 340 GWh). Comparing Figure
    4.5 to Figure 4.4 it is possible to see the additional supply
    possible from the CST plants due to charging the reservoir
    with biomass. During the times when the CST plants are
    using the reservoir to supply the supplementary power, the
    stored heat energy (RHS) can be seen to be decreasing.
    Biomass firing is a flat 10 GW(e) over the period apart from
    one hour on the morning of 1 June. It is clear that on the
    morning of 3 June the reservoir is nearly, though not in fact,
    exhausted. This situation would require the equivalent of
    10 GWelectrical biomass heaters (25 GWthermal) distributed across around 25 GW(e) of the CST plants. The 25 GW(e) of turbines have partial biomass backup, not full backup.

    In fact they show that no days had zero solar output the lowest being 371GWh.
    The period of lowest wind and sun over the modelled time period occurs on 27 June 2009 (early hours). This event arose after a single day of very low insolation (371 GWh on 26 June compared to next lowest for the month of 441 GWh and daily average for June of 690 GWh) and with very little wind overnight, dropping to almost no output. This low-wind situation would not be expected to actually eventuate in the proposed ZCA2020 grid, as geographical diversity….

  239. I also posted this at Climate Spectator:

    Solar thermal is already operational and being built in the U.S., Spain and a number of other countries:

    This statement is misleading. There are a few, small, demonstration solar tower plants being built in USA and Spain. They cannot be scaled up to the size envisaged in the ZCA report. There are no plants of the type proposed anywhere in the world. They would take decades to develop through many iterations of demonstration. They are unlikely to ever be viable.

    <

    The molten salt storage on the solar thermal plants (equivalent of 17 hrs at full output) combined with geographical diversity of the wind and solar, and only 2% backup from biomass and hydro, is enough to provide reliable, secure electricity 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

    This statement is also misleading. Even the ZCA report admits that there are times when all the 42.5GW* of solar thermal plant, assumed in the ZCA Plan, supplies no power at all. Look at figures 4.1 to 4.5 in the ZCA report to see this. This happens when all the 17 hours of stored energy has been used up. This happens following a period of overcast weather. The ZCA plan proposes to use biomass to cover for this situation. That is the basis of the 2% statement in the sentence quoted above. By stating a small number like this it hides the reality from the unaware public. The 2% is a small figure because the situation occurs only a few days ay year. But when it does happen virtually all the power we demand to run our society must be provided by the biomass. The hydro component is also nonsense. And the firm wind power they have assumed is also highly optimistic – by a factor of about three. But read the details on the BNC thread where all this is being discussed.

  240. Peter Lang,
    The Queanbeyan Solar farm produced these actual minimum capacity factors over a 2 year period:
    0.75% for 1 day

    You have to compare this result of one PV farom at one location with the ZCA model that gives 371/1008= 37% lowest capacity!
    your statement is totally missleading;
    ZCA attempts to address this issue in their modelling; what they believe is the worst case scenario is depicted in the Figures 4.1 to 4.5 (pp80-84). This shows that, at times, their entire solar capacity (42.5GW) generates no power whatsoever; e.g. on 2 and 3 June 2009. What a joke!

    It shows nothing of the sort, zero power from solar input in the night, but during this time power is coming from thermal storage until the next morning and CSP produces additionally 440GWh(44%) those days from solar input as well as using biomass and thermal storage(green) to bring up to >40GW(>1008GWh/day).
    I am sure you understand the concept of thermal storage being used at night, perhaps the graphs in ZCA2020 are a bit confusing!

  241. Neil Howes,

    You seem to be completely miss-interpreting these figures. CSP is generating significant power on most of June2, and the storage has not been exhausted. This model is using 10GW of biomass back-up(pink line) in combination with thermal storage, hydro and during daytime solar input.

    No I am not misinterpreting these figures (I don’t think). As I have explained up thread, but you haven’t accepted yet (and I’ve given up trying to explain to you):

    1. Forget the hydro component. It will not be available to play the role ZCA has assumed. So just forget it as a contributor to backing up for intermittent wind and solar generators.

    2. the biomass back up is nonsense. The heat required would have to be provided by gas, not biomass.

    3. The firm wind power is probably between 0% and 5% of capacity (they have assumed 15%, a highly optimistic assumption).

    4. The solar thermal is 30GW in deficit if we ignore the biomass component.

    5. The whole system is about 40GW in deficit if the firm wind power is 5% instead of 15%.

    The whole proposal is ludicrous.

  242. I just posted the following at Climate Spectator but it got rejected by the spam filter! So here it is for posterity:

    Patrick Hearps writes:

    The review at BraveNewClimate is mainly a couple of renewable-energy-deniers ..

    I think this sort of phraseology is to be avoided if we are to keep these discussions above board. This is clearly a dog whistle invitation to associate critics of the ZCA2020 plan with climate change deniers, and to suggest their methods are equally suspect.

    Those commenters are certainly renewable energy critics, but their critique is well founded, and as others have noted, the assumptions and logic are open to inspection. Rather than making insinuations, please point out the errors in fact.

    This sort of critique should be welcomed with open arms by the ZCA2020 authors, assuming that their highest priority is to address our climate crisis. If their plan does not work, but we nevertheless acted upon it, it would least us to disaster. Surely they would not want this, would they?

    Patrick continues to remark, with regard to the renewable energy critics, that they

    put blind faith in their promise of cheap nuclear

    Their faith is perhaps not so blind. There is one, and only one, modern industrial society that has transitioned its stationary energy base off coal. That is France, and they did it with nuclear power.

    In contrast with the ZCA2020 plan’s renewable energy technologies, nuclear power is proven, and commercial, and we have seen that it works, because it has already been done!

    Can anyone point to a similar example of a country retiring its fossil fuel base using wind? Certainly not Denmark, where wind has failed.

    Can anyone point to a similar example of a country retiring its fossil fuel base using solar? Certainly not Spain, where solar has failed.

    There is only one technology commercially available today that has been proven to displace coal and gas from electricity generation systems and that is nuclear. For the ZCA2020 plan to fail to incorporate a nuclear component shows they have some priorities that are higher than reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and I suspect those priorities have to do with philosophical or aesthetic values associated with renewable power. Thats lovely, but it will see us all toasted.

  243. Peter Lang
    Can you accept that according to the ZCA model the lowest days solar output is 371GWh(37% of average) and that another approx 600GWh of thermal storage is available.
    Please do not continue to trot out the one site PV value of one days lowest output of 0.75% capacity as representative of any nation-wide lowest day CSP power , let alone ignoring thermal storage/ biomass back-up.

    To be fair to the model it is using 10GW of biomass, but that could be existing NG or coal back-up as the total yearly consumption is 2% of total generation( ie 98% renewable).

  244. Peter Lang
    Forget the hydro component. It will not be available to play the role ZCA has assumed.
    The ZCA is assuming <1500GWh/year(12% of current hydro) is that excessive?
    The firm wind power is probably between 0% and 5% of capacity (they have assumed 15%, a highly optimistic assumption).
    The scenario on June 2-3 and worst case scenario was using actual wind output of just SE of Australia,

    The solar thermal is 30GW in deficit if we ignore the biomass component.
    Incorrect, thermal storage is declining from 350GWh to 100GWh in one day so 250GWh has come from storage and 500-600GWh from daily solar input, so 70-75% of demand comes from CSP, max 240GWh from biomass and 120GWh from hydro. Biomass can only account for 10GW of deficit.

  245. John Morgan, I’ve just posted the following on Climate Spectator:

    One of the regular commenters on BNC who has contributed considerably to the analysis of ZCA2020 tried to comment here, but the comment was rejected by the spam filter. He has posted the comment on the relevent thread on BNC, if anyone wants to read it. There is nothing in it which could concievably be interpreted as spam.

  246. Neil Howes,

    I’ll attempt to explain Figure 4.5 in the ZCA report to you (p84). Actually, I am doing this more for other readers because I realise it is pointless you and I discussing it because you want to try to make wind ans solar appear to be a realistic alternative that Australia should fund indefinitely for no result.

    Starting from the bottom on Chert 4.5 at roughly 5:00 am on 3 June 2009 the modelling says:

    – demand = 35GW
    – Wind supplies = 5GW
    – hydro = 5GW
    – CST generating from stored solar energy = 0MW
    – CST generating from stored biomass energy = 25MW

    Neil, do you agree with this interpretation of figure 4.5?

    What I am saying is:

    1. The wind power cannot be relied on. I’d allow zero for the wind as firm power (to run Australia!!!). Deduct 5GW

    2. The hydro is not available for this role. Deduct 5GW

    3. There is no power being generated from solar, nor from stored solar at this time

    4. The biomass idea can be discounted; it will be replaced by gas

    5. So we have no power being generated at this time other than by hot salt that has been heated by gas somewhere out beyond Burke, or thereabouts!

    Doesn’t it make more sense, as the cost comparisons show, to dump this silly idea and do the job with nuclear?

    This plan, and those that are supporting it are obsessed with the RE dream. The ZCA202 Plan is the best thing that could have happened. Many people are going to come to realise, over time, just how irrational these beliefs in RE really are.

    I recognise there is going to be an enormous fight from the true believers like yourself to defend the belief in RE. There is always a fringe group that hangs on to such beliefs no matter what.

    We are talking here of a plan that would cost in the order of 10 times more than the nuclear alternative, and can’t go even close to providing a reliable power supply at any cost, and you want the tax-payer to keep on subsidising demonstration plants for such a schemes indefinitely.

    You represent the types of people who got us into the mess we are in. The types who have blocked nuclear energy for 40+ years.

  247. Peter,

    I’m quickly re-stating this because in my view it makes the model a dead duck in any case.

    **Of course, I still think the solar,biomass, hydro, demand etc. side of the model should be pulled apart too, so please carry on thrashing that out. That is very important, and please don’t misinterpret this as request to stop, it isn’t. I just hope you didn’t think the below wind stuff was related only to detail in planning etc (although of course it is as well).***

    Specifically, the wind modelling is flawed, or at best incomplete :

    The mid winter dip in wind assumption is based on a single hypothetical study from 4 years of poor quality BoM data.

    2 years of data from 9 SA (unamed) wind farms simply scaled up and assumed to represent entire country.

    The “model” is for a mere 2 years, it takes no account of winds inter-annual variability or “real world” variation with location. Model should be 10 years at minimum, pref 20 years to cover transition period and then 10 years of independent operation. The 20 year period is accepted in the wind industry as the modelling period.

    In, Coppin PA, Ayotte KA, Steggel N. 2003. “Wind resource assessment in Australia – A planners guide.” Wind Energy Research Unit, CSIRO Land and Water. it is stated that:

    “Like the weather, the annual averages of wind speeds are essentially unpredictable.” They then go on to say that the range of variations can be estimated which must be allowed for in energy production sales. They give the example of Canberra airport for a 20 year period and the magnitude of variability is +/- 15%, and for a hilltop location they suggest +/-5% (although no specific location is identified). Coppin et al then point out that the variation in energy yield will be TWICE these figures, because as we now wind speed is NOT directly proportional to energy produced. “In some cases the lowest years can be up to half the energy yield of the best years.”

    Where is this built into their worst case scenario? In my view this seriously undermines the ENTIRE model, because 40% of the electricity supply is from wind, the worst case scenario covering inter-annual variation needs to show a +/- 30% variation in energy yield to be realistic.

    Generally though, there really does not seem to be any detailed information on the guts of model. There are no references whatsover in the 7 pages of the modelling section as to how sound any of its assumptions are.

    Has the model itself undergone any form of independent peer-review? Apart form here?

    If anyone has a dispute with this, please go back up thread and read my related comments.

  248. Neil,

    You are off the planet trying to defend the ridiculous. But I’ll answer this one:

    The ZCA is assuming <1500GWh/year(12% of current hydro) is that excessive?

    We have about 5GW of hydro generating capacity. You are advocating using all that capacity (all our hydro generators running 100% at the same time) to back up for low wind low CST output. And that is continuous for dayys at a time.

    That is total nonsense. It comes from someone who has spent their life looking at numbers on a computer screen and has no concept of the real world.

    If you commit all your hydro resources to backing up for intermittent wind and solar power, what do you have in reserve for a failure elsewhere and what do you have in reserve to manage the fultuations in grid load.

    Forget the hydro, Neil, it will not be available for what you want. There are other reasons as well why you can have all the hydro stations running at 100% capacity for 5 to 10 days days (see June and July 08 on Figure 4.1). And on a regular basis too! Wow! I can’t believe we are even disussing this.

  249. bryen,

    There are lots of points being made, and many are very interesting. But many are not really focused on addressing the important assumptions. With wind there are a few that need to be addressed and discredited. It is all very well to make stacks of points and leave them to the readers to try to pull together in their heads to get the point. But most wont do so. We need to take it through to address these claims about wind:

    1. If we have a sufficiently large grid over Australia we will get 30% capacity factor and 15% firm power. That is the key point that needs to be addressed.

    2. What is the cost of the system (including the transmissions system) that could do this even if it is theoretically practicable?

  250. Peter,

    Yes I agree, I was quickly responding to the discussion about the model + in the Climate Spectator article (and elsewhere) I get a bit sick of reading claims such as :

    “Detailed modelling has been carried out based on wind speeds measured half-hourly for a two-year period and solar data from the 12 proposed solar sites.”

    As I said earlier, I’m now out of time. Today is a bit of a fluke timewise, but I certainly am out of the debate for a while now. I hope those points you mention get thrashed out further. Hopefully we’ll see some debate come in from BZE as well. Regarding your point 1 in your last comment :

    The AEMO data is likely the best we are going to get in the time frame for a response to the ZCA proposal.

    For point 4 in your earlier comment :

    “4. What evidence is there that Australia would be much better than experience elsewhere?”

    It is probably safe to say that individual wf capacity factors are better than those obtained in the UK and Germany and parts of Europe (could they be any worse ??), so the experience – that we still see calms in regions of highest capacity factors – in Australia may be the best available, or at least among the best available. ERCOT perhaps is the only other readily available material… ?

    It seems certain that the ZCA failure to properly address those first four points you stated earlier could indeed be a “deal breaker” :

    1. What is the minimum annual capacity factor for wind power in grids with large aereal extent (such as the US, Europe and Australia grids?)

    2. What is the minimum capacity factor actually recorded for wind power over 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 30, 50 days in these grids?

    3. What is the lowest ‘firm power’ experienced on any of these grids?

    4. What evidence is there that Australia would be much better than experience elsewhere?

    cheers for now (again),
    bryen

  251. A recent announcement by Brumby has him building 500 GWh of solar by 2014 for $1 billion.

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/Australia-Victoria-solar-power-tariff-renewable-energy?utm_source=Climate+Spectator+daily&utm_campaign=1ed86573c7-&utm_medium=email

    As Matthew Wright commented on this post I couldn’t resist a response as follows:

    500 gigawatt hours of solar sounds like a big number. I wonder how many of your reader realise how tiny it really is. It is less than 1% of Victoria’s annual consumption. $1 billion dollar for less than 1%.

    It is only 0.22% of Australia’s total electricity consumption. $1 billion for 0.22%. $455 billion for 100%.

    Wait a minute! Weren’t Beyond Zero going to do it for a mere $260 billion of new (largely solar) generation capacity (excluding transmission costs)? And that includes replacing all oil and gas that is currently used for transport and direct heating not just electricity. ABARE estimates that electricity is less than a quarter of final energy consumption so replacing the rest will be no small task. Yet BZ can do the whole lot for 40% less than a scaled up Brumby solution only doing the electricity.

    Either Brumby is paying too much for his solar or BZ expects Australia to be using only a small fraction of the energy in 2020 than we use now.

    Maybe the answer is both!

  252. Neil,

    Incorrect, thermal storage is declining from 350GWh to 100GWh in one day so 250GWh has come from storage and 500-600GWh from daily solar input, so 70-75% of demand comes from CSP, max 240GWh from biomass and 120GWh from hydro. Biomass can only account for 10GW of deficit.

    This looks to me as if you are trying to intentionally mislead the other readers. You should be reading from the power axis, not the energy axis. What is generating ther power!!!! at 5:00 am?. Once you’ve managed to mwork that out than try again to understand what I posted here http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/#comment-84245

  253. Martin Nicholson,

    Does John Brumbie’s solar plan provide power on demand, 24/365, or only when convenient to do so?

    If the latter, then the $455 billion figure you quoted is irrelevant. Worse, it is misleading the meany who need these sorts of issues clarified. The $455 billion figure cannot be compared with the ZCA’s cost figures unless it refers to power on demand 24/365.

  254. Maybe the State Premiers must drink some special Kool Aid before they announce big energy plans. Rann wants to double SA’s 850 MW nameplate windpower and Brumby wants to run the whole show on solar. It’s hard to avoid a sneaking suspicion that Victoria didn’t lobby behind the scenes to kill what in effect would add a $60 carbon tax to brown coal costing a mere $6 a tonne.

    At the same time they throw the switch on Victoria’s new solar scheme surely they can dynamite Hazelwood.

  255. Peter sometimes you don’t see the wood for the trees.

    Of course Brumby’s solution is not baseload which means that BZ’s number is even sillier. I will be interested to see Mr Wright defence – if he offers any – particularly on the total energy issue.

  256. Martin Nicholson,

    The point I was trying to make, but apparently not clearly enough, is that we have demonstrated that the ZCA2020 proposal is under-estimated by a factor of five or more. Then you come up with a figure of $455 billion, ie only 20% higher than the ZCA plan. You said:

    It is only 0.22% of Australia’s total electricity consumption. $1 billion for 0.22%. $455 billion for 100%.

    That clearly can be understood to mean that you think the solar thermal can provide all our power for $455 billion.

    That is misleading. Not realising how this will be misunderstood is a real example of not seeing “the wood for the trees”.

  257. Peter, perhaps stick a comment re Martin’s underestimation at ->

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/Australia-Victoria-solar-power-tariff-renewable-energy

    + this just in via email. These BZE people are getting around a bit! Pity the poor folk of the Hunter & Newcastle, another round of duff information on its way… alarm bells should be ringing now… sheeesh, community wind farms, give me a break.

    Forum – Beyond Coal – 100% Renewables for the Hunter?
    =====================================================

    On Wednesday 4th August Climate Action Newcastle will be holding a forum for
    the community to learn about the potential of renewable energy, and start
    talking about a future where we don’t need to burn dirty coal to produce
    electricity anymore.

    The panellists will speak on a range of related issues, including the
    technical challenges and solutions, how communities can take action to
    create the future they want to see, and how the transition will affect jobs.

    A representative from Beyond Zero Emissions will be attending to launch
    their recently released Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan. This
    plan shows how we could provide 100% Renewable energy for Australia by 2020,
    including how much it would cost.

    Via skype, we will hear from Scott Kinear about how a community have set up
    their own wind farm in Victoria, and from Dr Luis Crespo about how
    Concentrating Solar Thermal technology is providing baseload power in Spain.

    There will be lots of questions and answers so please come along to listen,
    learn and participate.

    The forum starts at 6.30pm at Newcastle City Hall.
    Entry is by a gold coin donation.

    We hope you can join us.

    For more info or media enquiries please contact John L Hayeson 0400 171 602,
    or

  258. Where has the wind gone again?

    Yesterday, the total output from all the 18 wind farms, total 1609MW, spread over a region 1200km by 800km, dropped to 20MW at 2 pm yesterday. That’s 1.25% capacity factor.

    That is why I keep saying, wind power cannot be relied upon to provoide ‘firm power’ – power when needed.

    This gives some perspective to the ZCA2020’s assumption that we can depend on 15% firm power from wind.

    I’d say zero power and perhaps 20% capacity factor to allow for the spillage that will inevitably occur if we have 50% capacity penetration as the ZCA2020 plan asumes.

    Of course, if we limit the transmission capacity in the trunk transmission system to just 15% of installed capacity, as Neil Howes proposed in an eartlier comment, then the maximum capacity factor we could achieve would be not much more than 15%.

  259. bryen,

    This is scary stuff. Once again we have a group of RE zealots running around selling their belief to the gullible public. This is what happened with the anti-nuclear campaign in the 1970’s and ever since, and with biomass and with a lot else. This is what derails rational decisions making. It causes bad policy to be made by governments And it is always the same sort of people who get involved in these passionate but irrational beliefs. Then they get momentum and soon we all suffer the consequences.

  260. The community wind farm thing is actually quite alarming, as the Fox Islands site show’s (http://www.fiwn.org/), just look at those noise levels! And thats from only 3 turbines. The community has rallied round, which is good. It is testament to what can and does go wrong.

    3x 1.5MW GE turbines, they started it in Nov 2009, from then on, well, oh dear, up go the noise levels. Not to mention their loss in property value… which went the opposite way…

  261. Oh, regarding the disappearing wind, I must also quickly say :

    Remember I mentioned inter-annual variability in wind resource earlier and how the ZCA model doesn’t take it into account. Well notice in the ZCA doc Fig 3.10 that the mid winter dip is April / May, well it seems to be shifted this year, more towards June / July…

    Sorry I couldn’t resist that.

  262. Neil Howes,

    I can explain what I am saying better by looking at Figure 4,4, rather than 4.5. Figure 4.4 has no biomass plant. So the power output is dependent on wind, solar and hydro.

    Focus on the power (left axis)

    The solar power output drops to zero before sunrise on 2 and 3 June. It is zero for about 2 or 3 hours before sunrise on 3 June. The energy stored in the energy storage reservoir has dropped to zero at these times (read off the right hand axis). So no generation from the CST plants when the sun isn’t up and there is no energy stored in the reservoir.

    On a separate, but secondary, issues, I also argue that we cannot depend on 15% firm power from wind, nor can we use our hydro resource in the way assumed in the ZCA2020 plan. Figure 4.4 shows the plan needs 5GW of hydro power throughout the three days (almost). I say this is not realistic and none of our hydro resource will be diverted to this cause.

    Figure 4.5, which is the one we were arguing about upthread, shows the green area. This is the power generated by CST but doing so from energy stored by the biomass heaters.

    I suspect we are actually on the same page in interpreting these two charts.

    I’ve just looked back at the comments I posted that you took issue with. I agree, I had stated it incorrectly.

    Do you agree with my comments here on the solar output? I know we disagree on the wind and hydro? That can wait until another day.

  263. Peter Lang,
    I agree with you that without any biomass (25GW thermal) input solar and wind and hydro are not enough to provide 100% back-up through the night on some days in winter.
    I also agree that the 15% firm power from wind is an assumption that needs to be tested (not relevant in fig 4.5 because they are using NEM site output scaled), and this is a weakness of the ZCA2020 plan. Would also need to know if lowest wind will ever coincide with lowest solar.

    It is interesting that the 42GW of CSP has a minimum of 37% capacity based on solar insolation for the 2 years. This is due in part to the 35% excess capacity( considerable load shedding) and the nation wide spread of sites. Even if scaling to have no excess capacity that would seem to imply >25% firm power for CSP with 52%av operating capacity.
    It would be interesting to know where that 370-600GWh/day CSP is coming from in June. Is it coming from more than one site or region( WA or QLD).

    Figure 4.4 shows the plan needs 5GW of hydro power throughout the three days (almost). I say this is not realistic and none of our hydro resource will be diverted to this cause.
    Isnt this exactly what is happening now on the NEM grid, to provide peak energy for a 80% coal fired grid, whats different? Only the 2.2GW of pumped hydro cannot run for days or weeks, 2.2GW in TAS and 2.3GW snowy and a few other dams are being run at an av of 30% capacity. The ZCA plan has an av of 1,100GWh/year this is only 260h/year at 5GW(12 days/year).

  264. This was posted on ClimateSpectator this morning. I treied to reply but my response triggered the SPAM filter and will not be posted. So I’ll post my response in the post below this one. This is Patrick Hearps post:

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/2020-vision

    Submitted by Patrick Hearps on Fri, 2010-07-23 00:45.

    Peter Lang, I’m sorry, but after seeing your efforts on BNC I don’t see much value in engaging with you on this. From the NEEDS report, you have picked out the most expensive cost for solar thermal in there, ignored the rest of the study which outlines how this is reduced as more capacity is installed, and doubled the cost just for good measure. If only those cost blowouts hadn’t already occurred for nuclear power. Anyway, here goes:
    Cost reductions from solar thermal come primarily from two well-understood processes: economies of scale and mass-manufacturing. The largest single cost for a solar thermal plant is the mirror field. The mirrors (heliostats) are manufactured in a factory, and as with all production-line manufacturing, once the equipment is set up and the workforce trained, producing hundreds of thousands of components is much cheaper than the first few thousand. It is this same process that has led to so many of the items that we buy and use to become so cheap since the advent of the industrial revolution a couple of centuries ago.
    Construction of the rest of a solar thermal power tower plant is very similar to a conventional thermal power plant – steam turbine, associated piping, pumps and heat exchangers, air-cooling fan banks, a couple of large steel tanks and a continuous-pour concrete tower just like the 260+ metre smokestacks at a coal power station. Scaling this up from 17MW to 50, 150, 220MW is just using your construction workforce to build a higher concrete tower, install a larger turbine, insulate a bigger tank, which is overall more efficient on a per-MW installed basis – construction 101.
    This is why current solar thermal projects costs can easily be expected to reduce costs as the industry scales up, which was shown in the Sargent & Lundy Report, in much greater detail than other reports such as NEEDS which used a more simplistic analysis. Companies like SolarReserve (http://www.solar-reserve.com/) and Torresol (http://www.torresolenergy.com/en/index.html) have spent the last few years with firms such as WorleyParsons and SENER doing the engineering & design necessary to scale up solar tower technology from the commercial-scale Solar Two project of the 1990’s, which proved the reliability of the molten salt power tower over three years of operation (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy99osti/24643.pdf).
    SENER, the majority owner of Torresol who are building the Gemasolar power tower with 15 hours storage, has indeed been a big player in the nuclear industry in the past. They have chosen to move away from nuclear to build solar thermal, in addition while they used to sell off the nuclear plants they built, they want to retain ownership of the solar thermal plants. They have already been involved in construction of the operational solar thermal trough plants with storage (http://bit.ly/do3oEV)(http://www.estelasolar.eu/index.php?id=47).
    Their Gemasolar project already has a very large contingency budgeted in to take into account any escalations, but it is in fact on track to come in well under budget.
    If you note the back cover of the ZCA2020 report, you’ll see it was good enough for those radicals at the International Energy Agency.
    Regards, Patrick

  265. Solar thermal ecomomics – reply to Patrick Hearps

    Patrick Hearps

    Peter Lang, I’m sorry, but after seeing your efforts on BNC I don’t see much value in engaging with you on this.

    Likewise, it is impossible to have a rational discussion with someone who is engulfed in an irrational belief. So little point in us proceeding with this discussion here.

    From the NEEDS report, you have picked out the most expensive cost for solar thermal in there,

    Wrong!. I used the cost that NEEDS concluded was their best available for the solar tower technology ( refer to Table 2.3, p11 and the associated text here: http://www.needs-project.org/RS1a/RS1a%20D12.2%20Final%20report%20concentrating%20solar%20thermal%20power%20plants.pdf. Then convert to Australian dollars and escalate from 2007 to 2010 A$)

    ignored the rest of the study which outlines how this is reduced as more capacity is installed,

    Wrong! On BNC there are several articles that consider the NEEDS analysis and use it as the basis for analyses to compare the cost of transitioning to clean electricity generation in Australia. For example: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/ The ZCA team is obviously aware of those papers because the ZCA report attempts to address many of the issues raised about solar and wind power. Amongst the issues addressed in those papers on BNC is the issue of the so called ‘learning curves’ that are being assumed for renewable energy. The predictions of cost reductions have not been achieved in practice over the past 20+ years. In fact the opposite has been occurring. Your report should have compared the actual cost increases experienced in practice with the cost reductions Sargent and Lundy and others predicted in 2003. Then you would have realised that the learning curves do not apply. David Mills (one of the long time solar thermal proponents) has been saying for 20 years that solar thermal is cheaper than nuclear now, is commercial now, can provide base-load power now – if only the government would give him some more money. But the power supplied by solar thermal technology is inherently intermittent, unreliable many times more expensive than nuclear. Back to the ‘learning curves’, they are not learning curves at all. Learning curves apply when the same design is duplicated many times. This is not the case until the technology is mature. It will be decades until solar thermal is a mature, commercially viable (without subsidy) technology, if it ever is. The capital cost of wind farms in Australia increased 25% over the past year. It has been increasing every year. The same is the case for solar thermal, contrary to the NEEDS (and others) projected cost reductions. EPRI showed the expected cost of solar thermal electricity increased 30% in 2008 to 2009. It is projected to be at least five times the cost of nuclear generated electricity.

    and doubled the cost just for good measure.

    The doubling was at the top of the range of costs given, to give a possible upper bound and is because “Pioneer projects”, as this would be, typically run over cost by a factor of 2 to 4.

    You say the cost reductions will come from economies of scale and mass production. That is true one the technology is mature. But none of the technology you are proposing have ever been built. And the technology is still in the earliest stages of the technology life cycle. It is before ‘bleeding edge’ That means the designs are continually evolving, as they have been for the past twenty years and will be for the next 20 years. So there is no efficiency of scale until the technology is mature. I repeat: none have been built yet. It is vapourware.

    That is a response to your opening sentences. There is little point in discussing the remainder of your points here. If you are other readers are interested in the discussion, it is running on the BNC web site on this thread: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/14/zca2020/

  266. Neil Howes,

    1. Until the assumption of15% form power for wind is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, this is not a valid assumption on which to base the ZCA2020 plan (not to promote the plan on radio and TV and travelling show across the country during an election campaign This is irresponsible – just like the anti-nuclear crowd and many of the other similarly impassioned, belief-based campaigns that run by these same groups – usually led by groups like Greenpeace).

    2. Yes, we need to know what will be the lowest wind and lowest solar at the same time. Until we doo, we should use conservative assumptions. That would be based on lowest wind and lowest solar coinciding.

    It is interesting that the 42GW of CSP has a minimum of 37% capacity based on solar insolation for the 2 years.

    3. What is this based on? How do we know that the lowest capacity factor for solar is 37%? I have great difficulty believing that figure. I have seen satellite images showing cloud cover over the eastern half of Australia and it continues for days. That covers all but two of the 12 solar thermal power stations sites all at the same time.

    4. What do you mean by this statement: “Even if scaling to have no excess capacity that would seem to imply >25% firm power for CSP” ? If we have only 25% firm power from CST and 15% from wind (probably less than 5%), then we have only 40% firm power from the ZCA2020 plan. I reckon that just about sums up how reliable would be the power supply from the ZCA2020 plan.

  267. Neil Howes,

    Regarding assigning the hydro resource over to back up for intermittent wind and renewables, that would be a travesty. It won’t happen. The arguments for CST and Wind power need to stand on their own without having to rely on the hydro resource we have now. I’ve explained many times on this and other threads the many reasons why.

    This might help you, and other followers of the discussion, understand how the hydro is used.

    http://www.rte-france.com/fr/developpement-durable/maitriser-sa-consommation-electrique/consommation-production-et-contenu-co2-de-l-electricite-francaise
    Scroll the mouse left and right across the power versus time chart and watch how the hydro changes in the pie chart below. This provides a graphic illustration of how the hydro power output changes rapidly to balance the load changes. We do not want to be running the hydro generators at full power except in emergency. The hydro power needs plenty of spare capacity to be able to ramp up suddenly to balance sudden load changes. Changes in power output from intermittent generators (wind and solar) are not load changes. They are changes due to a dysfunctional generating system.

    If CST and wind were humans, they would be considered the most dysfunctional elements of society and treated accordingly.

  268. Peter

    Great site that French one!

    Interesting how much they use export (plus a bit of import) to balance the load along with the hydro. They do some degree of load following with the nuclear (42GW – 45GW) but I wonder how well it would work without the export buffer.

    This could be a balancing challenge for Australia if we ever did try to eliminate fossil fuels from our system entirely. France is only varying nuclear by less than 10%. We might need to vary by 40% over the day. An interesting challenge. I suspect that gas will be with us for some time to come.

  269. Martin,

    I don’t see a problem with having all our electricity generated by nuclear and pumped hydro.

    France is exporting electricity when demand in France is low. That is because the importers, mainly Germany, Italy, UK etc, find it cheaper to buy nuclear from France at that time than to burn gas and coal. So the importing countries are turning down their gas and coal (mostly), and buying nuclear generated electricity from France. They may be using some of it for pumping some hydro to storage.

    France’s nuclear power stations have considerable load following capability. But the nuclear power is cheap so it tends to be the last to be reduced. That is why it is not showing much variability on the charts you looked at. It is not that it cant load follow, it si just that it is more economic for other generator types to load follow.

    Australia could easily supply its electricity with mostly nuclear and a little pumped hydro. Using 2007 demand figures from the NEM, the peak, average and baseload was 33GW, 25GW and 17-20GW.

    So 25GW supplies all the enerrgy we need. To reach peak power we need anouth 8GW. We have two option:

    1. 33GW of Nuclear capacity that runs on average at 25GW and can operate between 17 GW and 33GW. (The EPR could operate between 10 and 33 GW)

    2. 25GW nuclear and 8GW of pumped hydro. (The Tantangara-Blowering pumped hydro scheme – see other thread – could do just that, and there are other options as well.

    So I see no issue with providing all our electricity with currently available nuclear technology. And the technology will improve, and be even more economical than now, by the time we approach becoming totally nuclear.

  270. Martin,

    Areva claims the EPR is designed to operate between 25% and 100% of full power and its power output can ramp up and down at 5% of capacity per minute when the plant is operating between 50% and 100% of full power. That is a ramp rate of 80MW per minute.

    That’s plenty fast enough to back up for fluctuating wind power, but who’d need expensive, low value wind power if you can have low-cost, high value nuclear power?

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  272. Thanks Peter. The Areva numbers certainly would suggest that that most of the load could be handled with NP with hydro handling faster ramp rates if needed. I doubt all the gas power generators would be shutdown anyway unless the fuel became too expensive or unavailable.

  273. Martin,

    I agree. I was simply stating the limit situation. By the tiime we get to 50% nuclear capacity we’ll probably be well into Gen IV, and by then NPP’s willl be able to do whatever we want as far as load following.

  274. Here is a ‘heads up’ on my ‘sanity check’ of the ZCA2020 cost estimate for implementing their plan

    First, I looked at the unit rates for the largest cost items (CST and Wind) and calculated a revised total project cost based on the revised unit rates.

    A$billion Basis of estiate
    $370 SCA2020
    $537 Tonopah
    $987 NEEDS, 2007 A$
    $1,111 in Spain 2010 A$
    $1,324 in Aust 2010 A$
    $2,385 Pioneer project premium

    Next, I looked at the quantities for the largest cost items (CST, wind and transmission). I calculated a revised total project cost based on both the revised unti rates and the revised quantities.

    A$billion Basis of estiate
    $370 SCA2020
    $914 Tonopah
    $1,364 NEEDS, 2007 A$
    $1,489 in Spain 2010 A$
    $1,701 in Aust 2010 A$
    $2,763 Pioneer project premium

    I’ll provide explanation later.

  275. China just built a new 6.68 MW solar farm costing $23.6 M USD. Its energy is estimated to be 6.3 million kWh or an average of 6.3 million / 8760 hours = 719 kW continuous. The cost per kW on this 100% power factor basis is $ 32815 USD per kW. Now tell me China is going to want to build these in droves at that cost. No way! Here is the story http://www.dailytech.com/China+Builds+Huge+67+MW+Solar+Power+Installation+Next+to+HighSpeed+Rail/article19104.htm

  276. Peter, how strong is your quantification for the pioneer project premium? This seems like something very difficult to assign a cost to. If the argument is not strong it may be seen as gilding the lily, and be an easy target in response.

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  278. John Morgan,

    I agree. Martin Nicholson said the same in a previous comment. I’ll post the relevant section from a draft critique I have written on the ZCA2020. Let me know if you think I should drop the comment about the “Pioneer project premium”.

  279. 4.2 Solar Thermal Capital Cost

    ZCA2020 developed its estimate of the unit costs ($/W) for CST largely from a 2003 report by Sargent & Lundy and from the proposed, 100 MW Tonopah Solar Thermal, Nevada, USA. ZCA2020 assumes $60 billion for the first 8587MWe then $3.41 million/MW thereafter.

    The Sargent & Lundy report is old, discredited and superseded by the NEEDS (2008) report. The Tonopah project is still in the scoping stage. None have been built yet. and is still obtaining approvals to proceed. The cost estimate is not published although the CEO commented to a journalist from a green energy magazine, that the cost would be about $550 million . This converts to A$6.47 million/MW. This is the type of ‘pioneer’ project where the early cost estimates are likely to triple or quadruple.

    EIA gives the capital cost of solar thermal as US$5,132/kW which converts to A$6.04 million/MW. The assumptions EIA uses for calculating the cost of solar thermal are here:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/assumption/renewable.html
    They rely on some old data, dating back as far as 1993, so I don’t believe we can place much reliance on EIA for capital costs for solar thermal plants.

    The NEEDS (2008) report is by far the most thorough and authoritative study of the cost of solar thermal. The unit cost is EUR10,241/kWhe for a solar thermal tower with 16 hours molten salt energy storage. This converts to A$17.07 million/MW. This cost is in 2007 Euro and converted to ‘2007 A$’ at the rate of A$1 = EUR0.6.

    Costs for large electricity generation projects have risen since 2007, so we need to raise the A$17.07 by say 20%, i.e. $3.40, to $20.47; say $20 million/MW.

    However, there is more to add. The NEEDS cost analysis is based largely on the solar thermal tower plant in Spain. The cost of similar plants could be expected to be higher in Australia than in Spain. Spain has higher population density than Australia. There is more and better infrastructure (roads, electricity, water) near the power station site than would be the case for the CST power stations in Australia. The higher population density means more workers are closer to the work sites, and the many businesses and organisations needed to support such developments are closer, so there is less cost in Spain than would be expected for constructing the equivalent plant some 500km from Australia’s capital cities. I’d suggest we allow 25% higher capital cost in Australia; adding 25% brings the cost to $25 million/MW.

    That’s now. How would we expect the cost of CST to change over the coming decade? See below.

    4.2.1 Projected unit costs of CST

    I am inclined to place more confidence in the NEEDS report for the current (2007) costs than any other reports I have seen so far. However, I do not accept their projections of future costs; they use highly optimistic learning curves and these have not proven to be correct in the past.

    The solar thermal advocates (e.g. David Mills) and the wind power advocates have been using expected “learning curves” for the past 20+ years to forecast declining costs. But the reverse has been occurring (as noted above the cost of wind power in Australia has risen 20% in the last year alone). So I don’t believe the learning curve assumption for CST.

    One of the reasons I don’t believe the learning curves for CST is because the technology is at an early stage in the ‘technology life cycle’ (before “bleeding edge”). So in most cases we will not be replicating a mature technology many times. We will be continually changing the technology. To me that is not a learning curve. If you design one type of plant, like a nuclear power plant, as France did in the 1970s and Korea and China are doing now, and then replicate that many times, then you do get a learning curve. But it must be basically the same design each time. That will not be the case with solar thermal; not for a decade ore more. So, I’d expect the cost of solar thermal to keep escalating, just as it has done to date and just as wind power has done to date.

    My thinking goes like this:

    1. CST is in the early stages of the technology life cycle. There are no genuinely commercial plants anywhere yet. The few that have been built are demonstrations, and heavily subsidised. None have the amount of energy storage required. In fact, NEEDS forecasts, optimistically, we may have 24h generating capacity with CST by 2020, and that is for only one day so does not handle periods of overcast conditions.

    2. Therefore, all the CST plants should be considered ‘pioneer plants’.

    3. Pioneer plants often run over-cost by factors of two to four and more. Here are some example:
    a. Sydney Opera House – exceeded the original budget by a factor of 15 (original budget was $7 million and the final cost was $102 million)
    b. Parliament House, Canberra (ran over budget by a factor of about 5 (original budget was $220 million and the final cost was $1,100 million)
    c. The EPR reactor in Finland, the first of its kind, is running over budget by about 50%.
    d. Wind farm cost 140% of original budget http://jamesdelingpole.com/blog/the-great-wind-farm-disaster-ctd-1028/
    e. there are many examples of pioneer processing plants running over cost by factors of 2 to 4 and more.

    4. Because CST plants are ‘pioneer’ plants, any estimate we have now that is based on demonstration plants are likely to over run by factors of 2 to 4.

    5. I consider the NEEDS Analysis to be by far the most thorough and therefore reliable, estimate of the current state of the art and current cost of CST.

    6. The NEEDS cost estimate, which is based on 2007 costs, needs to be increased by about 20% to bring it to 2010 costs, to be consistent with the ZCA costs. So, let’s call it a round figure of $20 billion/GW.

    7. Add 25% ($5 billion/MW) for the higher cost of building the plants in Australia compared with Spain; $25 billion/GW

    8. Because we will be building pioneer plants (the design will keep changing for every one) for the next 20 to 30 years, we should expect this cost to be about double in practice. So say $50 billion/GW

    4.2.2 Revised capital cost of CST (based on the revised unit cost)

    The capital cost of the solar component depends on the assumed unit cost for CST. Table X lists the ZCA2020 cost estimate foe the solar thermal component and the revised costs based on the revised unit costs for CST from the previous section. The capacity is 42.5GW for all cases.

    Source A$ billion/GW A$ billion
    ZCA2020 Plan $10.5 -> $3.41 $190.00
    Tonopah $6.47 $274.75
    NEEDS (2007) $17.07 $724.74
    Spain 2010 $20 $849.22
    Aust 2010 $25 $1,061.53
    Aust 2015 $50 $2,123.05

  280. Peter, I’m with you up to point 8. While allowing a 100% cost overrun sounds entirely plausible, I don’t think the quantification is strong enough to support presenting this as a conclusion. My thinking,

    * The plants currently being built now are FOAK plants, so that situation should be reflected in existing projects, and the NEEDS analysis. FOAKness is already priced in, isn’t it?

    * ZCA2020 envisages plants of greater capacity and storage than any yet built, so cost per MW (after your previous adjustments cumulative to point 7) should certainly not come down until such plants are standardized. But should $/MW go up?

    * ZCA2020 envisages 13 x 245 MW / 24 hr storage plants. If the early plants run over, the later plants may be coming in under budget. I think being neutral on the cost overrun is the safe conservative assumption.

  281. John Morgan,

    I accept your points and I’d rather be conservative with our statements. So, I’ll delete the unit rate based on ‘pioneer plant’ premium of x2.

    Having said that, I really doubt any of the costs we are seeing posted are likely to be achieved. None have to date for the past 20+ years. And all the renewable energy estimates that are done for IEA, EIA, NEEDS etc are all highly optimistic. They are done by advocates. I have seen the Australian submission to the IEA Solar power report. It was prepared by the President of the Australian solar energy advocacy group. No matter how hard a person in that position and of that persuasion tries to present unbiased information, he cannot. And I expect the other countries inputs have similar bias.

    As bryen pointed out upthread, the proposed plants have never been built. As Gene Preston pointed out scaling up the tower is likely to triple the cost per unit height for the tower. So I believe there will be enormous cost growth in these plants if they are to proceed. And solar thermal technology will not reach maturity for 2o years at least. So there will be no offsetting reductions due to the expected learning curve.

    Therefore, I do not believe the NEEDS cost estimate for the FOAK will be achieved. I believe it will be higher. And there will be no offsetting ‘learning curve’ for decades.

    * The plants currently being built now are FOAK plants, so that situation should be reflected in existing projects, and the NEEDS analysis. FOAKness is already priced in, isn’t it?

    That would be true if the costs we have are actual costs for built plants. By they are not. They are optimistic estimates by advocates trying to get money from governments and elsewhere. They are trying to spin a case to get funding. They underestimate now and come back for more later. So I believe all the current estimates are likely to be gross underestimates. I suspect they may be under-estimates by a factor of two.

    * ZCA2020 envisages plants of greater capacity and storage than any yet built, so cost per MW (after your previous adjustments cumulative to point 7) should certainly not come down until such plants are standardized. But should $/MW go up?

    Possibly, Yes! As we go from a solar multiplier of 2 to a solar multiplier of 3 or 4, some inputs grow geometrically. You will recall Gene Preston’s comment about how the cost ships increases as the cube of the weight (or something like that). He pointed out that a similar effect occurs with the height of the tower. I expect similar effects also apply with the mirrors as the distance from mirror to tower increases.

    * ZCA2020 envisages 13 x 245 MW / 24 hr storage plants. If the early plants run over, the later plants may be coming in under budget.

    The storage is actually 17 hours. This is more than the proposed storage for any of the other plants. I don’t expect the later plants would come in under the current budget. There will be little duplication of plants with fixed design. The design will be continually evolving. This will happen for decades. Technologies that have an expected operating life of 20 or 30 years will take decades to evolve through the technology life cycle because of the very long time it takes to learn the lessons from the earlier versions.

  282. John Morgan,

    More on project costs. Canberra is building a new water supply dam. The cost has excalated by a factor of three since teh ACT Government approved it to proceed about 2 years ago. Man has been building dams for 5000+ years. If we can’t estimate somethign as simple as that, why do we have such faith in the estimating capability of groups of renewable energy advocates and researchers at universities?

    How much is Sydney’s desalination plant running over budget by? Is this the first desalination plant ever built in the world? It is naieve to believe that the ZCA estimate, the NEEDS estimate or any other estimate for the mass roll out of solar thermal plants that have never been bjhuilt yet is going to be anywhere close to correct. They will be at least 2 times over the initial cost.

    Despite all this, I will still remove the offending point, because I do not have sufficient justification to support it.

  283. Peter, I agree with all your discussion above regarding the projects, and I also think pulling back to the most transparently quantifiable cost underestimates is the right thing to do.

    I don’t think you should alter any of your text in the draft document either. What I would change is simply the reporting of the adjusted cost in the headline conclusions from “$50b” to “$25b, and possibly much more”,”due to the likely first of a kind project overruns discussed in $4.2.1″, or somesuch. Keeps your point intact without overreaching.

    Not that you’re overreaching :)

  284. World’s First Molten Salt Solar Plant Produces Power at Night (22 Jul 2010)

    http://inhabitat.com/2010/07/22/worlds-first-molten-salt-solar-plant-produces-power-at-night/

    Sicily has just announced the opening of the world’s first concentrated solar power (CSP) facility that uses molten salt as a heat collection medium.

    The Archimede plant has a capacity of 5 megawatts with a field of 30,000 square meters of mirrors and more than 3 miles of heat collecting piping for the molten salt. The cost for this initial plant was around 60 million Euros.

    Eur12 million/MW = A$20 million/MW.
    (This is consistent with the estimate from the NEEDS report escalated to 2010 $A).

    However, there is no quantification of the amount of storage nor the capacity factor. This link http://www.solarthermalmagazine.com/2010/07/14/enel-inaugerates-molten-salt-thermal-energy-storage-system-for-archimede-solar-thermal-power-plant/ includes this statement:

    Archimede can collect and store the heat of the sun for many hours in order to use it to generate electricity at night or in overcast conditions.

    If we assume a annual capacity factor of 25%, then the cost would be $80 million/MW-y/y, much higher than any of the figures calculated upthread.

  285. I just posted this here:
    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/2020-vision#comment-310

    Is the ZCA2020 Plan based on vapourware?

    Matthew Wright,

    Only proven and costed technologies are used in the ZCA2020 Plan.” (Executive Summary, p xvi)

    Is this statement correct? I understand that the ZCA report and costings are based on solar tower technologies and wind turbines that have never been built. They are concepts, not proven technologies. Am I correct?

    If I am wrong, could you please provide a link where I can read up about the actual total cost at completion and the actual performance of some of the 220MW solar thermal tower plants with 17 hours of molten salt energy storage.

  286. If the Sicilian plant costs $8 a watt with 25% c.f. then it must be more expensive to run than suggested in the EIA Levelized Costs linked in the side bar. That quotes Solar Thermal type not specified as 25.7c per kwh, dividing Mwh dollars by 10 to get cents per kwh.

    Assuming r = 10% for annual financing the expression (Cr/8.76c) for financing costs per kwh gives 36.5 cents = [8 X(.1)]/[8.76(.25)]. In contrast financing costs for new black coal could be (2X(.1))/8.76(.9) = 2.5c per kwh. EIA says the Fixed O&M component which should line up with financing costs is 2.2 c/kwh for Solar Thermal. I guess they left out the major capital cost of storage.

    If this line of thinking is correct then a network of Sicilian style plants could not produce retail electricity for under 40c per kwh and probably a lot more.

  287. Peter Lang
    You have stated that Australia’s present hydro is being used to stabilize the grid( mainly coal-fired power), drawing on up to 5GW( plus 2GW pumped hydro).
    But then you say
    The arguments for CST and Wind power need to stand on their own without having to rely on the hydro resource we have now. I’ve explained many times on this and other threads the many reasons why.
    and you provide a link showing how Frances nuclear power is using hydro to stabilize supply/demand.
    AND MOST INCREDIBLY you state at little lower down that if nuclear was to replace coal-fired power in Australia
    25GW nuclear and 8GW of pumped hydro. (The Tantangara-Blowering pumped hydro scheme – see other thread – could do just that, and there are other options as well.

    In summary, hydro is being used to stabilize coal-fired power, it could be used to stabilize nuclear with the addition of 8GW pumped storage, BUT no hydro or additional pumped hydro can be used to stabilize wind or solar power!! WHAT WOULD HYDRO BE USED FOR if all coal-fired power was replaced by wind and solar?

  288. Peter Lang
    What do you mean by this statement: “Even if scaling to have no excess capacity that would seem to imply >25% firm power for CSP” ? If we have only 25% firm power from CST and 15% from wind (probably less than 5%), then we have only 40% firm power from the ZCA2020 plan. I reckon that just about sums up how reliable would be the power supply from the ZCA2020 plan.
    The calculations ZCA2020 used are for the lowest day; 15% of 50GW wind=7.5GW, 37% of 42GW CSP=15.5GW, the balance of 14GW required to meet demand coming from hydro(5GW) and storage with biomass back-up(10GW). This is the lowest day, the second lowest day was 44%capacity. I meant that if more storage was available for example pumped hydro( 8GW as you suggested for nuclear back-up) less CSP collection capacity(ie mirrow area) could be used giving only 25% of 42GW or 10GW on lowest day but not as much summer surplus would be load shed in the ZCA plan.

    Please note that the figures 4.5 are not assuming 15% firm power for wind but using actual output of wind generators in SE and actual solar insolation( at the 12 sites), and showing the lowest solar output day in the 2 year study. The ZCA also concludes that 10GW biomass backup is probably too low and goes on to use 15GW in the plan, but this could be replaced by 8GW additional pumped hydro and existing 7GW NG fired generation, with only 1% of total energy coming from FF.

  289. Neil Howes,

    This is a frustrating discussion because we are going around and around. I’ve answered all this before, but you seem to be either ignoring parts of the previous discussions and quoting selectively to make a point or something else is going on.

    The 8GW Tanatangara-Bowering proposal is for about 40GWh of storage. That is about 5 hours at full power. That works fine with coal of nuclear because they are reliable power supplies that pump the water up each night. But it is of no use for wind power because we do not have reliable power. The ZCA202 proposal is to fill and hold the storage at full for a years or so and release it over a short time, eg a few days, to generate 5GW full time. Can you not see the problem with what you are arguing for? And this is just one of the issues this creates. Consider who would want to finance $15 billion for 8GW and 40GWh to be used just once a year.

    We don’t have 5GW hydro plus 2GW pumped hydro. The 2GW pumped hydro is included in the 5GW hydro (e.g. 1.5GW Tumut 3).

    We can’t run our hydro generators at 5GW for five days.

    You seem to have totally misunderstood the role hydro plays in stabilising the grid. I explained it up thread.

    In summary, hydro is being used to stabilize coal-fired power, it could be used to stabilize nuclear with the addition of 8GW pumped storage, BUT no hydro or additional pumped hydro can be used to stabilize wind or solar power!!

    Hydro is being used to stabilise the power and frequency on the grid. The instabilities are caused by load changes (demand changes, like a train starting off from a station, a mill starting up, etc). If unreliable generators, such as windmills, are added to the grid this increases the instabilities that have to be balanced. The coal and nuclear generators provide stable power but do not respond as quickly to load changes as hydro does. Hydro is ideally suited to smoothing the fluctuations caused by the load changes. Adding unreliable generators, such as wind, greatly increases the problem. Because wind can go for days without generating much, and for months below the average output, a huge amount of energy storage would be required to balance the highly variable wind power. Whereas, 40GWh of storage would be adequate to provide 8GW of peak power every day if the energy is stored by coal or nuclear, it would only last 8 hours if pumped by wind, not several days as assumed in the ZCA2020 plan.

  290. “This is an ambitious, technically feasible plan that should be looked at seriously

    – Tim Flannery
    Professor Faculty of Science
    Macquarie University”

    His comment on the ZCA plan, from http://beyondzeroemissions.org/blog

    Could someone who knows more about the technical aspects of the ZCA paper than me write to Professor Flannery about this. Perhaps point him towards this blog (I know Barry has done a couple of papers with him, there’s a good chance it might get through to him). A lot of people really listen to Tim Flannery, and we need to get him talking about nuclear again – and about more of it!

  291. I posted this at the thread where the ZCA2020 plan is being discussed with one of the authors: http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/2020-vision#

    James,

    You ask for more detail. I think less detail may be better. The problem with more detail is we lose track of what are the really important criteria upon which the decision must be made. I suggest they are these:

    1. Cut CO2 emissions from stationary energy to near zero (nothing produces no emissions). Let’s say the aim is to get to below 50g CO2-e/kWh

    2. As fast as possible

    3. At least cost

    To achieve these we need:

    1. a suite of technologies that can generate our electricity at less 50 g CO2e/kWh. Nuclear does this. Wind and solar may or may not at a total system level but are close enough to be accepted as a pass for criteria no 1.

    2. The solar thermal technology proposed will be decades at least before it can be rolled out at the rate assumed in the ZCA plan. None have ever been built. Nuclear can be built as fast as France did 30 years ago if we really want to. It just depends on politics and policy. The constraints on nuclear are policy and politics, not technical.

    3. The cost of the ZCA plan is founded on baseless, wildly optimistic assumptions. The cost would be at least five times and probably much more to achieve the ZCA plan, even if the technology existed now which it does not. Conversely the cost of nuclear is well known. In countries where the decision to build is made by the governments and public disruption is not allowed, the cost is in the order of US$1500/kW to US$2500/kW. In countries like USA, Canada, UK and Europe where public protest, politics and policy changes can disrupt the process at any time throughout the full life of the project there is a high investment risk premium to pay. In these countries there is no limit to the cost. The cost to build nuclear power in Australia under present policies is infinite, because nuclear is banned. However, given equivalent polices as in UAE, the first nuclear plants to be built in Australia should cost less than the plants recently contracted to be built in UAE for A$4100/kW. Subsequent plants should decrease to a little more than the equivalent plants in Korea (currently about US$2300/kW). For comparison, the Solar Thermal Tower with 16 hours molten salt storage is projected to cost about A$20,000/kW (from the NEEDS analysis converted to A$ and escalated to 2010 $). This is roughly five times the cost of what our first nuclear plants could reasonable be expected to cost if we implement appropriate policies and regulatory regime)

    Asking about where the nuclear plants would be built is simply scare mongering. They will be built close to the industrial and population centres to minimise transmission costs. Site selection cannot be considered until a regulatory regime is established, so to raise trivial issues like this at this stage reveals the objective is not to have a serious debate but imply to push a green-wash agenda. The fact that the ZCA2020 plan did not consider the nuclear option is also revealing.

  292. The ZCA plan falls for the same well-meaning energy delusions as Al Gore’s famous proposal in 2008 to “re-power America” when he said:

    “Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing
    100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.
    This goal is achievable, affordable, and transformative.”

    Like the ZCA authors, Gore assumed that some of the extraordinary growth in computer speed and cost reductions could be translated into utility scale energy systems. Best described by Vaclav Smil as “Moore’s Curse”, the delusion fails to acknowledge the fundamental limitations of energy transformations which are inevitably multi-decadal, protracted affairs.

    http://www.vaclavsmil.com/wp-content/uploads/docs/smil-article-20081119-the_American.pdf

    And yes, nuclear followed the same multi-decadal development curve despite enormous civilian and military government support and funding, leading to the stage in 2010 of having mature, costed, commercial, “off-the-shelf” nuclear technologies.

  293. Read the below link over coffee, thought I’d quickly post it, while I had a second. Its a parabolic trough (not a power tower), but it claims to be the first that uses molten salt as the heat transfer fluid. Peter mentioned it upthread also, but this link was posted just 2 days ago :

    http://depletedcranium.com/molten-salt-solar-produces-piddle-power-day-and-night/

    “What is claimed to be the world’s first solar thermal concentration plant to use molten salt as the heat transfer fluid has been opened by Italian energy company Enel in Sicily.

    The 5MW Archimede plant – named after the rows of huge parabolic mirrors used to capture the sun’s rays – is also claimed to be the first to integrate a combined-cycle gas facility and a solar thermal power plant for electricity generation.”

    “To be precise, this is not the first time molten salts have been used in a solar power application. The supposed claim to fame here is that molten salts are being used for heat collection, heat transfer and storage, where as in the past they were usually limited to heat storage.”

    ——

    According to an estimation in the article the total yearly energy production is estimated to be 9000MWh, Power output average will be about 1MW power. It cost 60million euro. One of the commenters put this at about “80,000 USD per kilowatt adjusted for capacity factor.” Actually some of the comments are well worth a read. Also, the gas plant it is connected to is 752MW…

  294. Thanks Bryen,

    I was wondering about whether it is actually a Tower or is in fact sloar trough. Now I know. So, in fact, there are no solar towers with molten salt storage anywhere.

    Bryen, could you please post this comment at Climate Spectator on the 2020 Vision thread:

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/comment/edit/402

    Bryen, do you have expertise in Loss of Load Probability Analysis? Can you help out with that for the ZCA2020 plan?

  295. Peter Lang
    Are you are changing your figures, to suit you present arguement.?
    The 8GW Tanatangara-Bowering proposal is for about 40GWh of storage. That is about 5 hours at full power.
    But on your 12April post at BNC about pumped hydro, you give the following calculations:
    Power Storage Stg rate Cost Cost per unit Pw Cost per unit energy storage capacity
    MW MWh MWh/h $ $/kW $/kWh
    Tantangara Blowering 8,482 526,692 5,104 $6,689,079,648 $789 $13
    Eucumbene Blowering 7,729 3,320,623 4,651 $8,336,829,648 $1,079 $3
    Eucumbene Talbingo 2,140 24,946 1,168 $2,229,693,216 $1,042 $89
    Tumut 3 Expansion 3,000 10,867 1,762 $3,597,948,848 $1,199 $331
    Tantangara Talbingo 6,903 24,946 3,865 $4,022,349,120
    $583 $161

    Thats 526GWh not 40GWh for Tantangara/Blowering and 3,320GWh for Eucumbene/Blowering. Either scheme or one tunnel from Tantangara and two from Eucumbene have the potential to more than triple the Snowy’s long term (weeks or months) power generation, and double hydro spinning reserve from 7GW to >15GW.

    Hydro is ideally suited to smoothing the fluctuations caused by the load changes. Adding unreliable generators, such as wind, greatly increases the problem.
    thats why it would be an advantage to double hydro capacity to accommodate short term fluctuations, but these are no larger than a major coal-fired power station going off-line .
    Because wind can go for days without generating much, and for months below the average output, a huge amount of energy storage would be required to balance the highly variable wind power.
    Thats exactly what we have in >20,000GWh long term hydro storage, 700GWh short termCSP thermal storage and we could also have >1000GWh of pumped hydro storage.

  296. Here’s a novel question; which is the bigger greenwash, Italy’s Archimede solar boosted gas fired or Australia’s Liddell solar boosted coal fired station? For Archimede we have 5 MW solar X say 25% c.f. vs 752 MW X say 60% gas. That fossil:solar ratio is about 450 to 1. For Liddell they don’t seem it publish the solar output but say it will save 2000 tCO2 a year which I take to be 2000 Mwh or about .23 Mw continuous average. The coal unit outputs 2000 Mw X say .9 c.f. = 1800 Mw average output.

    Thus the fossil: solar ratios are approximately
    Archimede: 450 to 1
    Liddell: 7,800 to 1.

  297. Neil Howes @ 28 July 2010 at 11.22

    Tantangara Reservoir is a component of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme. Its purpose in the scheme is to divert water from the upper catchment of the Murrumbidgee River to Eucumbene Reservoir for long term storage. Eucumbene Reservoir is the large central storage reservoir for the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

    Tanatangara operates between empty and full. Seasonal waters flow into the reservoir and are diverted to Ecumbene Reservoir as fast as the tunnel can move the water. Sometimes Tantangara Reservoir fills faster then the water can be diverted. When this happens Tantangara Dam overflows and water is discharged down the Murrumbidgee River. This water is lost from use for hydro electricity generation. It generates no electricity. So overflowing is a loss of potential stored hydro energy.

    If we were to use Tantangara Reservoir for pumped hydro, then the proportion of the reservoir’s volume we use for pumped hydro storage is storage removed from use for Tantangara’s intended purpose. If we wanted to use all of Tantangara Reservoir for pumped hydro storage in the way envisaged by Neil Howes – that is, using 526GWh of potential storage to back up for intermittent wind power – then Tantangara Reservoir would need to be kept full throughout the year so it is ready to generate at high power for days at a time. To do that would mean Tantangara Reservoir could not do its job of capturing the seasonal inflows from the upper Murrumbidgee River and diverting them to the central storage (Eucumbene Reservoir) for future use in generating electricity. So the capacity factor of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme would be reduced forever. It would produce less hydro electricity forever more.

    The Tantangara-Blowering pumped hydro scheme I envisage is a traditional pumped hydro plant that would pump the water up every night at the times of least demand on the grid. At this time power is cheap and is supplied by the least cost baseload power stations. I envisage these being nuclear power stations in the future. If we used Tantangara-Blowering as I envisage we would use only up to about 40GWh of storage. That would amount to less than 10% of the total storage of Tantangara. So we would effectively lose only 10% of Tantangara’s capacity to capture water for traditional hydro electric generation in the years when Tantangara overflows.

    If Tantangara-Blowering is developed as a traditional pumped hydro scheme for use with low cost baseload power in the early ours of the morning it can provide 8GW or peak power (high value power) every day for 80 odd years. That would avoid the equivalent of eight nuclear power stations. It would cost about $15 billion and save about $32 billion in nuclear power stations (the nuclear power stations to do the same job, in a fossil fuel free world, would be load following and used at a capacity factor of about 20%). That is the really great value of pumped hydro if we do not waste it on propping up renewable energy.

    However, if the site was used for supporting wind, we’d need to use all Tantangara’s capacity for pumped hydro and would lose its use for conventional hydro. Tantangara Reservoir would need to be kept full so it is able to provide essential power in the infrequent events where the wind isn’t blowing and there is insufficient energy stored in the molten salt at the solar power stations. This would be an enormously expensive way to ensure a secure supply of electricity. It is totally ludicrous suggestion when you really think about it. The $15 billion investment would be for a plant that is required rarely but then is essential to keep our electricity system running.

    It would be irrational to use our limited hydro resources and any other potential sites for the purpose of supporting wind power.

    I’ve answered the other points in your post before. You have it completely wrong, but I can’t be bothered going over it all again.

    Neil Howes, your advocacy of wind power is irrational.

    Enough!

  298. NREL has an interesting breakdown of the solar power, by tech & also by project status :

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/by_technology.cfm

    They quote the 17MW Gemasolar as costing 230 million Euro :

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=40

    How accurate the NREL figures are is anyones guess of course. They expect it to come online Dec2010, with 100,000 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned).

    Oh I nearly forgot to mention, as well as the 15h storage there is also Natural Gas fossil fuel backup, according to NREL. Seems that these solar thermal plants are enjoying lots of nat gas backup, just like wind does.

  299. PS :

    Assuming the NREL price estimation is correct, that puts Gemasolar 17MW with 15h storage at about US$300 million (not sure if the required Natural Gas power plant backup is included in that figure). And that is to build in Fuentes de Andalucía, about 30km west from Seville in Spain :

    http://maps.google.com.au/maps?client=safari&rls=en&q=Fuentes%20de%20Andaluc%C3%ADa&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl

    about twice as far away from Seville as the PS10 & PS20 towers, which are to the east of Seville in :

    http://maps.google.com.au/maps?client=safari&rls=en&q=Sanlúcar+la+Mayor&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=a6NPTN2JJ47RcdyvrKIB&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&ved=0CBIQ_AU

  300. ZCA report page 61 states for CST “Phase 1″ :

    “The first 1,000 MW is priced at similar price to SolarReserve’s existing Crescent Dunes Tonopah project — $AU10.5 million per MW.

    • The next 1,600 MW is priced slightly cheaper at $AU9.0 million per MW.

    • The next 2,400 MW is priced at Sargent & Lundy’ conservative mid-term estimate for the Solar 100 module which is $AU6.5 million per MW. ”

    —-

    However, the 100MW Crescent Dunes Tonopah project will

    a) only contain 10h storage
    b) isn’t expected to be finished until July 2013 (480,000 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)) :

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=60

    & also see the SolarReserve press release ->

    http://solarreserve.com/news/SolarReservePUCNApprovalAnnouncement072810.pdf

    “SolarReserve expects to receive environmental approvals by the end of 2010″

    So this project hasn’t even been approved by planning yet, so to call it an “existing” project is perhaps a bit optimistic! OK, it exists on paper.

  301. I just posted this on the “Climate Spectator web site: http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/2020-vision#comment-496

    This might be of interest: http://ecogeneration.com.au/news/windorah_solar_farm/011780/

    This is state of the art solar power (although it is PV not solar thermal). It shows what the current state of the art is and confirms the high costs of solar that have been mentioned by me and others on this thread.

    The major difference between this plant and the 220MW concept that the ZCA2020 is using as the basis of their plan, is that this is technically proven (it is built and working). However, it is not commercial (it is not economically viable).

    So what are the costs? Well here they are:

    Capacity (nominal); kW; 130
    Energy pa; kWh/a; 360,000
    Capacity Factor; ; 32%
    Capital Cost; A$; $4,500,000
    Unit cost; A$/kW; $34,615
    Unit cost per average kW; A$/kW; $109,500

    So the unit capital cost is A$35/W (A$35,000/kW). This compares with the cost from estimate NEEDS (2007) of A$20,000/kW for solar thermal tower with 16 hours of energy storage. The cost per average kW supplied is A$110,000/kW average power. That compares with the $80,000/kW average power for the new solar thermal trough with molten salt storage that has just been commissioned in Sicily.

  302. The ONLY commercially operating solar power tower in the USA, according to NREL is the Sierra SunTower. Strangely enough, you would think this project would get a proper mention in the ZCA report, but it doesn’t.

    WHY NOT?

    Particularly as ZCA report are touting proven, reliable & existing non-pilot plant. Why not put some spotlight on an actual existing real world plant!

    Well it does sort of get a mention, but not by name, just by the owning company eSolar, and there is a picture of the Sierra Sun Tower at bottom right of ZCA report page 48, but the Sierra SunTower is never mentioned by name under the picture or in the text.

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=63

    http://www.esolar.com/our_projects/

    Sierra SunTower consists of 2 x towers (55metres), it started electricity production in July 2009, appears to have no storage at all, is water cooled and the capacity factor is unknown (I can’t find anything yet on its output performance). Cost also unknown (I can’t find any), but eSolar got a 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_SunTower

    “Sierra SunTower includes two “eSolar modules”. 24,000 heliostats, divided between four sub-fields, track the sun and focus its energy onto two tower-mounted receivers. The focused heat converts feedwater piped to the receivers into superheated steam that drives a reconditioned 1947 GE turbine generator to produce electricity. The steam passes through a steam condenser, reverts back to water through cooling, and the process repeats.”

    Other ground breaking facts about this project, apart from the 63 year old GE turbine generator, include that it was opened by Arnold Schwarzenegger who stated that :

    ““eSolar is proving that California’s energy and environmental leadership are advancing carbon-free, cost-effective energy that can be used around the world.”

    Errr, yea, sure Arnie… keep taking the tablets.

    Also see the eSolar “brochure”, which shows their 46MW power unit, which requires 12 towers over 250 acres :

    http://www.esolar.com/esolar_brochure.pdf

    Don’t forget to bring your own energy storage and ask eSolar how to hook it up.

  303. Forgot to add this amusing gem from the wikipedia page :

    In February 2010, Sierra SunTower won Renewable Energy World’s “Renewable Project of the Year” award. The award recognizes eSolar’s achievements in the clean energy industry by naming Sierra SunTower an exceptional breakthrough in the commercialization of solar thermal technology.

    So a 5MW solar power tower with no storage is heralded as a “breakthrough in the commercialization”!

  304. bryen,

    thank you for that link. The comments by Matthew Wright are very revealing. He is the lead author of the ZCA2020 Plan. He calls the contributors, who point out the facts to him, ignorant. Yet he is so blined by belief in solar power the cannot accept any of the vfacts that are put to him so clearly. It is clear there is no way he will back down on the report or its false claims.

  305. A light overview on the Gemasolar 17MW (previously known as Solar Tres) can be found here, in this document prepared in 2006 and published in 2007 by SENER ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/troughnet/pdfs/2007/martin_solar_tres.pdf

    Highlights are :

    SENER “joint the team in 2001″

    Claims to be the “first commercial molten salt central receiver ” when its built.

    ***4km gas pipeline for backup!

    So take special note that they have a gas pipeline connection very closeby! This is a requirement for backup by the Spanish regulators…. thats faith in action.

    Access – close to main highway

    Molten Salt – evaluations in the project for system components

    That means this things been on the drawing board for almost 10 years…
    .

  306. bryen,

    good point about the gas pipeline being only 4 km in Spain. I jave been pointing out for some time that the cost of an equivalent solar plant would be higher in Australia than in Spain because:

    The plants in Australia would be located further from infrastructure, labour force and services (all the technical, professional and other services needed to build a plant). For example, we recognise how much more it costs to have an electrician in the Pilbara than in or near the population areas. Perhaps twice as much.

    Likewise, 500 km gas and water pipelines cost a lot more than a 4 km line.

  307. bryen,

    Do I have this right:

    ‘Solar Tres’ has morphed into ‘GemSolar’

    Solar Tres was due to start in 2001 and be completed in 2007. GemSolar actually started in Feb 2009 is due to be competed in 2010 (from a report that was written in April 2009 just after work had begun)

    Solar Tres was estimated to cost EUR53 million in 2006; by 2009 it was expected to cost EUR243 million – an increase of a little under five times in 3 years.

    Solar Tres: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/sectors/doc/csp/csp.pdf
    GemSolar: http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=40

  308. Having just slogged my way through the entire thread, I have a few comments.

    I am surprised that most of your analysis seems to be focusing on financial models. While all big projects have to stack up financially, energy production systems also have to stack up energetically. You would all be familiar with the financial term “Return on Investment (RoI)”, but there is an equivalent term “Energy Returned on Energy Invested (ERoEI)” (on a lifetime basis) which is extremely important.

    The two terms are not the same because: the price of energy changes over time; government subsidies can mask the true costs of a project; and when an ETS is brought in, there will be a reducing fossil energy cap. This latter effect will put our society in a completely different space from that of the last 100 years, when the energy available was able to grow apparently without limit, so long as you had the money. But the future will be different – less and less fossil energy will be available.

    While I was waiting for the main ZCA report to come out, I contacted BZE and asked about the ERoEI of the project, and Mark Ogge kindly sent me a chart comparing various energy technologies ( http://www.peakoil.org.au/EPBTgraph_energy_production_aligned.pdf ). By zooming the display and measuring the bar chart with a ruler, I was able to extract some figures.

    Note that ERoEI = Lifetime / Energy Payback Time

    Comparing these numbers with the numbers from “Life Cycle Energy Balance” by the ISA team at Sydney Uni (see http://www.peakoil.org.au/isa.energy-intensity.comparison.gif ) which was commissioned by Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is accepted by government as the gold standard, it is clear that the ZCA figures just do not stack up against the ISA numbers.

    ISA didn’t cover solar towers, but both have evaluated solar PV – ZCA suggests an ERoEI of 8.7 to 31, while ISA suggests 1.5 to 6. ZCA reckons wind has an ERoEI of 72 -144 , while ISA thinks it is 8 to 25.

    So when ZCA thinks the ERoEI of CST is 54 to 72, it would be wise to treat those numbers with caution.

    The important point is that having left the building of this massive infrastructure to a time when fossil energy use must be contracting, there will be a squeeze on available pollution permits and the cost of bidding for them will take the price through the roof, throwing the financial models into the dustbin of history.

    Another aspect of this is that having built one CST, the industry will move on to another and another, all the time pouring energy into the infrastructure in the form of energy-intensive materials, so even when the first CST has paid back the energy used in its building, there will be several others that are still in energy debt, so the cumulative energy profit for the entire operation will be in debt for double the Energy Payback Time (first approximation).

    I agree that the planning phase is going to take MUCH longer than suggested, and the Energy Payback Time might be six times as long as suggested, and time to total net energy profit will be double that. This makes the 2020 target laughable.

    The list of supporters of the project listed in the preface include some influential people – Senator Milne, Ian Lowe, Tim Flannery (who is actually a museum curator), and so on. May I suggest that when you have your critique sorted out, that you target those people in particular, rather than waste time banging your heads against the spam filter at Climate Spectator.

    And at the risk of getting my head bitten off, I would not go on at them about how good nuclear is, because it might be twice as good as solar PV, but it suffers from the same problems as all the technologies – they need such a large amount of energy to build them, which you only get back over a lifetime, that in an energy-scarce world, the technology cannot be ramped up in time.

    It is the same for electric cars/trucks/bulldozers/tractors, high speed rail systems and so on. All very nice on paper, but where is the energy going to from to build them ? We need to be reducing the amount of energy we use, not increasing it.

  309. yes my understanding is Solar Tres project morphed into Gemasolar 17MW in 2006 for setup in Spain see here ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/troughnet/pdfs/2007/martin_solar_tres.pdf

    also on the link
    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=40

    you can see this :

    EPC Contractor: UTE C.T. Solar Tres
    Operator(s): Gemasolar 2006, S.A.

    Power Block
    Turbine Capacity (Net): 17.0 MW
    Output Type: Rankine
    Cooling Method: Wet cooling
    Fossil Backup Type: Natural gas

    Thermal Storage
    Storage Type: 2-tank direct
    Storage Capacity: 15 hour(s)

  310. Compare cost of solar thermal towers with molten salt storage

    I’ve done a check of costs of Solar Thermal Tower plants with molten salt energy storage.

    I conclude:

    1. Only two solar tower projects larger than 10MW have been completed, and neither has energy storage. There is no operational experience for solar thermal tower projects with energy storage.

    2. The largest project under construction is Gemasolar (previously called Solar Tres). It was originally due to be in service in 2007 and is now due to be in service by December 2010. So far it has overrun by 3 years.

    3. The cost estimate for Solar Tres (now called Gemasolar) was €53 million in 2005. By 2007, the cost estimate had risen to €152 million. In 2009, when the project got started, the cost estimate was €230 million.

    4. I have converted the euro cost estimates to A$ (€0.6 = A$1), then escalated to 2010 A$ using a simple escalation rate of 10% per year. I justify this rough figure on the basis of:

    d. EPRI’s projected cost for solar thermal generation increased 30% from 2008 to 2009, so 10% pa is on the low side.

    e. The actual cost of wind farms in Australia increased 25% in the past year, so 10% pa is on the low side.

    f. EIA, Annual Energy Outlook, 2009 (p45) states:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/pdf/0383(2009).pdf p45

    Power Plant Capital Cost Cases

    For the AEO2009 reference case, initial capital costs for new generating plants were updated on the basis of costs reported in late 2007 and early 2008. The reference case cost assumptions reflect an increase of roughly 30 percent relative to the cost assumptions used in AEO2008, and they are roughly 50 percent higher than those used in earlier AEOs.

    Therefore, 10% escalation per annum is on the low side.

    We have three reasonably authoritative cost estimates for two current projects. They are (in constant 2010 A$/kWe):

    $21,970/kWe – Solar Tres, Spain, 15MW, 2007 estimate NEEDS (2008)
    $24,804/kWe – Gemasolar, Spain, 15MW, 2009 estimate, NREL (2009)
    $20,000/kWe – Archimede, Sicily, 5MW, 2010 actual cost?, Reuter

  311. The estimated cost per average kW (A$/kWy/y) for these three projects is:

    $31,041/kWy/y – Solar Tres, Spain, 15MW, 93,000MWh, 2007 estimate
    $36,938/kWy/y – Gemasolar, Spain, 15MW, 100,000MWh, 2009 estimate,
    $97,333/kWy/y – Archimede, Sicily, 5MW, 9,000MWh, 2010 actual cost?

  312. Dave Kimble,

    Thank you for that excellent contribution. I’ll take all that on board. I agree with a lot of your points. I have been treating the ClimateSpectator web site as a testing ground. It was also useful to see where the authors are coming from and similarly to understand the views of many of the of the people who would be attracted to that thread.

    The ERoEI issue is important and we may include a short comment along the lines of your comment here. However, I don’t think we can address it thoroughly in the critique for several reasons: not enough personnel on our team, no resources, need to focus on the key points that should be clear to everyone that the ZCA2020 plan is absolute nonsense.

    I agree I should never have mentioned nuclear on the Climate Spectator thread. It was, and still is being, spectacularly used as a diversion tactic to avoid answering questions about the ZCA2020 plan.

  313. Dave your statement about nuclear cost is incorrect. Here in Texas we are building a $13 billion USD 2700 MW nuclear plant. I could make annual payment of $1000 for six years for a total of $6000 to purchase 1.25 kW which would produce one kW-year of energy for 50 years. Compare that with me putting up solar panels on my roof costing at least $35,000 USD which would produce one kW-year energy but last only 25 years. Obviously I can afford the $1000 per year but I could not afford the $35,000.

  314. Dave Kimble,

    Since you’ve done the comparison of the ZCA and ISA on ERoEI already, would you be willing to write up a short section to highlight the issue. We could then include that in the ZCA2020 critique that a few of us are working on in the background.

  315. Ken Rose has gaciously allowed his graph
    http://egpreston.com/Rose_Fig2_IEEE_PES.pdf
    presented at the recent IEEE Power and Energy Society meeting to be used to show the breakdown of different types of energy in the US. The sliver at the top consists of geothermal, wind, and solar which was .97% of the total US energy in 2008. Obviously geothermal-wind-solar is unlikely to make much fo a contribution within a short ten year period. And neither will it in Australia.

  316. Gene,

    Thank you for that chart. It’s pretty clear which energy sources can grow to replace coal and oil.

    Bryen.

    Thanks for all the references you’ve posted. They have helped me to pull together the summary above. There is more behid the summary above, but they need the table to be of much use but there is no point trying to post tables in the blog thread.

  317. And at the risk of getting my head bitten off, I would not go on at them about how good nuclear is, because it might be twice as good as solar PV, but it suffers from the same problems as all the technologies – they need such a large amount of energy to build them, which you only get back over a lifetime, that in an energy-scarce world, the technology cannot be ramped up in time.

    I’d say a good many BNCers are passingly familiar with EROEI. If memory serves me correctly, the Swedish utility Vattenfall once did a study on the energy inputs over the lifetime of their Fosmark NPP. After taking into account the energy used in construction, operation, eventual decommisioning and all the energy required to mine and enrich the uranium, and properly dispose of it after use, they concluded that the energy debt was repaid after a few months of operation, and the overall EROEI was 93:1.

  318. Gene
    I didn’t say anything about costs, I only talked about energy. Do you have enough energy to build a nuclear power station and keep it fueled for 50 years ? How about the next one and the next one ? The ore is dug up with bulldozers and shifted by truck. At the moment it seems to make sense to open Olympic Dam which needs 4 – 5 years of trucking to remove the overburden. If you have to bid for pollution permits to run your trucks, you might find it suddenly becomes too hard. You could, of course replace the entire truck fleet with electric trucks before you start, but where will you find the energy to build them, because you haven’t produced any electricity from your nuclear power station yet, and pollution permits are hard to get.

    Peter
    Yes, I’ll have a go at that.

  319. It is the same for electric cars/trucks/bulldozers/tractors, high speed rail systems and so on. All very nice on paper, but where is the energy going to from to build them ? We need to be reducing the amount of energy we use, not increasing it.

    I’d say there’s a good argument to continue our energy use at whatever level is necessary to construct the essential infrastructure of the future. I’ve usually assumed that we will need some form of geoengineering to properly combat global warming, and that it would be an energy-intensive effort. We need to construct the nuclear plants as swiftly as we can and meliorate the consequences once we have the engineering resources to do it properly.

  320. In the article on Climate Speculator Matthew Wright states :
    “Baseload solar thermal is the game-changing renewable energy technology, developed by the US Department of Energy between 1980 and 2000.”
    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/2020-vision

    This statement by Matthew Wright is false. The US Dept of Energy did NOT develop baseload solar thermal. In a report titled : DOE Solar Energy Technologies Program 2007 Annual Report, on p181, under Solar Thermal R&D :
    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?query_id=3&page=0&osti_id=

    the DOE clearly state :
    “New Directions

    The increased budget also provided the impetus to take a long term view of CSP R&D. This exercise led to a scenario that would establish a new goal for CSP: providing baseload power at a competitive cost by 2020. To provide baseload power, CSP projects would require 12-17 hours of storage at low cost. ”
    —-
    So in 2007 the US Dept of Energy are stating that solar thermal baseload is a “new goal”, therefore Matthew Wright is incorrect. If Matthew Wright thinks he is correct, he should ring up / email or write to the US DOE and correct their mistake.

    Lots of the info is here for the Solar2 R & D and the Gemasolar :
    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/
    Just search on solar power tower etc, then in the little box on the left narrow subject to “TOWER FOCUS POWER PLANTS” and then arrange by descending date. Its a handful of docs. These are mainly Sandia / NREL / DOE docs, but they are pretty definitive. i.e. its hybrid solar/gas.
    Here is a an example paper :
    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?query_id=2&page=0&osti_id=791898
    An Evaluation of Molten-Salt Power Towers
    Including Results of the Solar Two Project
    Abstract
    Its pretty much an interesting doc on the Solar 2 plant, and importantly discusses the items on the agenda for its successor, the 10 year on the drawing board Solar Tres AKA Gemasolar 17MW, yet to be completed… possibly around Dec 2010. Which is connected to nat gas and is NOT a solar baseload plant.
    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/review_meeting/pdfs/prm2010_snl_kolb.pdf
    This is very interesting & has costs, + tech roadmap
    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/review_meeting/pdfs/prm2010_snl_kolb.pdf
    The following is a peer review meeting, May24 2010. very interesting & up to date.
    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/review_meeting/pdfs/prm2010_plenary_csp_wilkins.pdf
    Notable “long term goals” of CSP discussed in this doc are :
    “Competitive in baseloadpower
    market by 2020-2022″
    “competitive with coal (with
    sequestration) in baseloadpower
    market”
    “Baseload–technology at 8-9 ¢/kWh w/16 hrs storage
    *13 contracts (FY10) ”
    I assume FY10, means 2020, but this is not explicitly stated. I assume this because it looks like a 10 year funding program from 2010 outwards.
    Power towers are being funded with 20% of the program, trough 30%, Dish 9%, storage 28%, mngmt / deployment / etc the rest
    Budget graphs with costs on are included in May24 2010 meeting pdf.
    ——
    2008 Solar Technologies Market Report: Pub;d January 2010
    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?query_id=2&page=0&osti_id=979821
    “This report focuses on the U.S. solar electricity market, including photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. The report provides an overview of global and U.S. installation trends. It also presents production and shipment data, material and supply chain issues, and solar industry employment trends. It also presents cost, price, and performance trends; and discusses policy and market drivers such as recently passed federal legislation, state and local policies, and developments in project financing. The final chapter provides data on private investment trends and near-term market forecasts.”
    ——
    The SAM thing is NREL’s solar modelling tool.
    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?query_id=1&page=0&osti_id=983729
    Parabolic Trough Reference Plant for Cost Modeling with the Solar Advisor Model (SAM)
    Have not looked at this because it trough, but you may get some mileage.
    ——
    The beginning of the Gemasolar idea ->
    Solar Two technology for Mexico, (2000 Mar 02), SAND2000-0563J, Gregory J. Kolb & John W. Strachan
    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?query_id=1&page=0&osti_id=752064
    “Economic studies have shown that Ievelized energy costs are reduced by adding more storage up to a limit of
    about 13 hours (-70% capacity factor). While it is true that storage increases the cost of the plant it is also true
    that plants with higher capacity factors have better economic utilization of the turbine, and other balance of
    plant equipment. Since salt storage is inexpensive, reductions in LEC due to increased utilization of the turbine more than compensate for the increased cost due to addition of storage.”
    —–
    Here is the final report on the PS10, the Project was funded with the European Community
    under the 5th Framework Programme :
    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/sectors/doc/csp/ps10_final_report.pdf
    A truly classic work, e.g. in regard to the 15% gas part :
    “Support of gas was allowed with the restriction of keeping its consumption (in energetic units) under 15% of the amount of electricity produced. Additionally, later in December 2004, the contribution of fossil fuels was allowed for consumption in solar thermal facilities to contribute on the generation of 15% of the annual electricity production. These new boundary conditions leaded to the final design and to the launch of the construction of
    PS10 solar thermal power plant.”
    ——-
    http://www.iea.org/papers/2010/csp_roadmap.pdf
    to quote from p 15 :
    “CSP plants with large storage capacities may be able to produce base-load solar electricity day and night, making it possible for low-carbon CSP plants to compete with coal-fired power plants that emit high levels of CO2. For example, one 17 MW solar tower plant under construction in Spain will use molten salts as both heat transfer fluid and storage medium and store enough heat energy to run the plant at full load for 16 hours.
    Storage has a cost, however, and cannot be
    expanded indefinitely to prevent rare events of solar
    energy shortages. A current industry focus is to
    significantly increase the temperature to improve
    overall efficiency of CSP plants and reduce storage
    costs. Enhanced thermal storage would help to
    guarantee capacity and expand production. Storage
    potentially makes base-load solar-only power
    plants possible, although fuel-powered backup and
    hybridisation have their own advantages and are
    likely to remain, as described below.”
    (**Note the 17MW Gemasolar plant referred to includes 15% nat gas backup)
    “Backup and Hybridisation
    Virtually all CSP plants, with or without storage,
    are equipped with fuel-powered backup systems
    that help to regulate production and guarantee
    capacity – especially in peak and mid-peak periods.
    In areas where DNI is less than ideal, fuel-powered
    backup makes it possible to almost completely
    guarantee the plant’s production capacity at a
    lower cost than if the plant depended only on the
    solar field and thermal storage (Figure ). Providing
    100% firm capacity with only thermal storage
    would require significantly more investment in
    reserve solar field and storage capacity, which
    would produce little energy over the year.”
    ————–

  321. Dave here is what you said. “they need such a large amount of energy to build them, which you only get back over a lifetime, that in an energy-scarce world, the technology cannot be ramped up in time.” Its my understanding that the EROEI for nuclear is a ratio of several hundred. It has to be at least ten times higher than solar. I’m not sure about wind. I’m waiting for those gear boxes to wear out after 5 years. I bet the replacement cost will be excessive and if subsidies stop, will wind continue to operate or be quietly retired, leaving thousands of dead wind generators sticking in the air. This is what happened in Hawaii several decades ago – rusting wind generators that don’t run.

  322. we’ve gone over this territory before. Let’s get some facts straight on this and post it.

    where do we get nuclear (2nd and 3rd gen) EROEI that approaches 100 or several hundred?

    Light bucket quotes payback times that are a lot lower and the renewables propagandists go lower still so that the difference of opinion looks like this: pro nuke citing an eroei of 100 or better; anti nuke, below 5.

    g

  323. Regardless of the steady state EROEI Dave Kimble’s point is well taken, and we will require a lot of energy to invest in the transition to a sustainable system. This really points to the urgency of getting this under way. In terms of our remaining fossil liquids we basically have one shot left in the locker to do this.

    The relevance to the ZCA2020 plan is that if we invest our remaining resource in that path for a decade, we will be out of energy and out of time. The well meaning promoters of this plan are exposing us to an extreme risk.

  324. Dave Kimble,

    Thank you for offering to do that.

    Did you see Gene’s comments with reference to the article by Barry Brook on this ERoEI issue. The article and thread might be a place to research. I’d suggest it is important to have considered the material covered here and refer to the references otherwise readers will continually point out that you haven’t addressed what has already been covered.

    Gene’s post said:

    I checked my EROEI links in past e-mails and located this presentation http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/03/08/tcase8/
    which says nuclear LWR EROEI is 180 to 11 and Wind is ~30 and Solar Thermal = ~11 and Solar PV = ~6. Nuclear IFR is estimated to be >900.

  325. Gene
    > “Its my understanding that the EROEI for nuclear is a ratio of several hundred. It has to be at least ten times higher than solar.”

    I forgot to post the links to the ISA report and when I posted again it didn’t appear.

    ISA’s report “Life Cycle Energy Balance(2006)” is archived at http://www.peakoil.org.au/isa.life-cycle-energy-balance.pdf
    and the 2 spreadsheets that go with it are at
    http://www.peakoil.org.au/isa.nuclear-calculator.xls
    http://www.peakoil.org.au/isa.fossil_and_renewables_calculator.xls

    ISA uses the expression Energy Intensity instead of ERoEI, but one is simply the inverse of the other. They come up with LWRs ERoEI of 2.5 to 6.25, and HWRs ERoEI of 2.9 to 5.6 . The detail is in the spreadsheet.

    One reason why different people come up with different answers is due to them using different system boundaries or scenarios to model. For example, do you count in the energy embedded in the huge trucks that spend their entire working lives hauling uranium ore, as well as the fuel that they consume and the maintenance ? If you leave that out, the ERoEI improves. A proper LCA should count that in.
    The base case ISA scenario is for a 1300 MW reactor and an ore grade of 0.15% amongst many others factors. A much disputed factor is the energy cost of decommissioning.

    At the time, Ranger was producing ore which was at best 0.15%, and they had a commercial cut-off of ore at 0.075%.
    Once at the mill, they processed only above 0.08% and stockpiled the rest. When Ranger mine closed, the mill continued processing stockpiled ores down to 0.075%.
    Using the spreadsheet you can change the ore grade to say 0.08% and that changes the ERoEI from 5.6 to 5.3 .
    I have done a sensitivity analysis of GHG emissions against ore grade, see http://www.peakoil.org.au/isa.ore-grade.sensitivity.gif , which shows the technology starts to run into a brick wall when ore grades get down to about 0.02%. This is because at that grade, you are trucking 5,000 tonnes of muck out of the pit and putting it through the mill for every tonne of U3O8, and you also have to deal with 4,999 tonnes of waste.

  326. According to SolarReserve the developer for the 100MW Power Tower at Tonopah, AKA Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. In the planning app doc cost is estimated as US$700m – $800m

    page 10 ->

    The estimated cost of the project, including the transmission line and substation upgrades, is between
    $700 million and $800 million dollars and is generally broken down into the following cost areas:
     30% Receiver, Tower, Salt Tanks & Heliostats
     18% Steam Turbine Generator and Steam Generation
     6% Cooling System and Water Treatment
     7% Miscellaneous Process Equipment
     9% Electrical and Instrumentation
     2% Civil and Site Work
     10% Structural
     2% Buildings
     11% Piping & Instrumentation
     5% Mechanical Utilities.

    http://www.tonopahsolar.com/Portals/11/Tonopah_Crescent_Dunes_POD_2009_11_23.pdf

    &

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=60

    Storage details are still not specified.

  327. Forgot to add re Tonopah ->

    http://www.tonopahsolar.com/

    “To find out more about the project or provide comments, you may download the Plan of Development from this website. The Plan of Development is a ‘living’ document prepared by the project applicant which will be modified and updated as the project progresses through the permitting effort. To provide comments on the project during the permitting effort, please watch for notices on upcoming public meetings in local publications. We appreciate your interest in the project and look forward to your comments! ”

    They’ll need to add in exactly what the storage is (10h is in the press release). Keep checking back at their website for an update. I noted in an earlier comment that storage was 10h, I can’t find a figure in their planning doc though.

    Construction time is estimated as 30 months. They still have to start, as they are awaiting environmental approval. Earliest online would be start of 2013, if they got their shovels out tomorrow.

    NOTE : SolarReserve / Tonopah Solar are the developers of 100MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project , Nevada.

  328. From wikipedia – In philosophy, an aporia is a philosophical puzzle or a seemingly insoluble impasse in an inquiry, often arising as a result of equally plausible yet inconsistent premises. It can also denote the state of being perplexed, or at a loss, at such a puzzle or impasse. The notion of an aporia is principally found in Greek philosophy, but it also plays a role in post-structuralist philosophy, as in the writings of Derrida and Irigaray, and it has also served as an instrument of investigation in analytic philosophy.

    This is a good description of our current situation. The delimma concerns nuclear power. If you think that nuclear weapons will be the end of the world then there is no solution to saving humanity other than a non nuclear solution. Those of us studying the energy problem in detail know that there is no possibility of a non nuclear future, therefore we see that not deploying nuclear will also lead to the destruction of the world.

    That leads us to just one conclusion, that nuclear has to be expanded while at the same time its use for weapons has to be eliminated. Is humanity up to the task? Or do we need to evovle some more?

  329. Two of the US solar power tower plants NOT going ahead ->

    “NRG has switched both the Alpine SunTower and the New Mexico SunTower projects to solar PV as part of a time to market strategy. Transmission constraints are a secondary consideration although it is true PV deployments can be scaled without concern for 46 MegaWatt turbine economics like eSolar.”

    “NRG Solar will continue to develop the 276 MW Gaskell SunTower project in anticipation of U.S. Federal DOE approval of eSolar loan guarantees. Without the DOE loan guarantee, eSolar’s new technology is currently unbankable. By contrast, with a utility PPA, PV projects are bankable and can be readily financed. Given that the Sierra SunTower Project has been operational for less than a year, it’s not surprising there is insufficient data available for bankers to feel comfortable with eSolar’s CSP technology.”

    June 24th 2010 ->

    http://guntherportfolio.com/2010/06/esolar-and-nrg-solar-project-update/

    So scrub these off the NRELlist ->

    Alpine SunTower was 92MW ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=55

    &

    New Mexico Sun Tower was 92MW->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=64

    That leaves the Sierra SunTower 5MW with no storage as the ONLY current operating power tower in the US. It has just completed its first year of operation ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=63

  330. DaveK, if you are concerned about ERoEI for nuclear, then you should be an avid promoter of the Integral Fast Reactor, since we’ve already mined enough uranium to power the whole world for 700 years using this technology. Using this Gen IV nuclear power and other designs such as the thorium-fuelled LFTR will mean that ERoEI will forever become an irrelevant issue. It’s really that simple.

  331. Concerning this report http://www.tonopahsolar.com/Portals/11/Tonopah_Crescent_Dunes_POD_2009_11_23.pdf I did some calculations that show some interesting results. The report is nicely done. I noticed that the radius of the solar mirror field is about 4200 ft. I calculated that the mirror area is about 5 square km. If this had been a trough system this amount of area would have been good for 500 MW using the rule of thumb of 1 MW per hectare. 5 sq km would be 500 hectares or 500 MW. However this project is only 100 MW. Possibly the 100 MW is for a longer duration of electric power generation time or possibly the short tower height of only 636 ft to the collector compared to 4200 ft distance to the outer mirrors, caused the mirrors to be spaced five times more widely than they would have to be spaced with a trough system. I calculated the elevation of the tower to be only about 9 degrees above the horizon for the most distant mirrors. The cost of the tower and the cost of the land must have been determining factors in the height of the tower and the amount land needed. This is the kind of engineering detail I like to see. Now what is the cost of this project and how many MW-years per year does it generate?

  332. Concerning EROEI of nuclear fuel, the calculations must be wrong otherwise the cost of nuclear fuel would be a major cost for nuclear power, but this is not true, therefore the cost of mining and energy used in mining is not significant. Here in STexas they dont even use trucks. Its leached by pumping water into the ground and extracting it. This has environmental problems, cost is not the problem, but my opinion is like Barry’s, lets stop this senseless uranium mining and just use the fuel we already have in storage.

  333. Gene,

    See my comments & links above, but roughly :

    700 to 800 million USD

    storage is claimed as 10h (not in the planning doc in the press release)

    according to NREL 480,000 MWh/yr (estimated)

    also see ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=60

    This one, when it gets built, appears to not be using gas, as none is specified in the planning doc.

    Estimation for online is Aug2013, no construction as yet, still awaiting environmental approval

  334. Thanks for the http://www.tonopahsolar.com/Portals/11/Tonopah_Crescent_Dunes_POD_2009_11_23.pdf cost figures of 750 million USD and 480,000 MWh/yr. 480,000 divided by 8760 is 54.8 MW-year/yr. 750 M$/54.8 MW-yr = 13.7 $/w or 13,700 US$ per kW. Not bad, but about twice as expensive as a nuclear plant. Maybe this solar project will turn out to be the lowest cost solar power plant performer to date. Now the question is this, will any utilities try to finance it themselves? Who takes the risk with this investment? The local power companies around here are loathe to make large capital investments at this time because the US government is not going to protect those investments. So they continue to build cheap gas units. But even a new several hundred MW gas plant could cost more than a billion dollars. I’m thinking of a local company builting some gas units. They are spending over a billion dollars on the new gas plants.

  335. Gene,

    In the Tonpah planning doc / press release can you give me a quick explanation of the approvals ?

    e.g. according to the press release announcing their PUCN approval :

    “SolarReserve expects to receive environmental approvals by the end of 2010″

    http://solarreserve.com/news/SolarReservePUCNApprovalAnnouncement072810.pdf

    Now in the full planning doc go to p62 to p67. This lists all the approvals needed. Can you give me a quick description of the meaning of the PUCN approval, and how far they have to go to get the others ? If you know these issues.. :)

    They are looking to start construction Feb 2011 for an Aug 2013 online (p67).

    I can’t find a more detailed planning doc than that, but their must also be a proper EIA somewhere. Tonopah solar also claim that the planning doc is a “work in progress”. I find that a but strange for a planning doc ? But then again, the planning docs over here are the same, they always get changed around after planning approval is given, thats all part of it …

    This will help me get an idea of how accurate an Aug 2013 online date is.

  336. Comments on Tcase8
    Comparing figures from ISA’s nuclear spreadsheet with Tcase8, and converting to the units used in Tcase8:
    ISA’s Greenhouse Intensity for LWR is 57.8 Kg(CO2-e)/MW.h(el), which fits comfortably within Tcase8’s range of 5 – 80.

    ISA uses 1,000 Kg(CO2-e)/MW.h for the greenhouse intensity of electricity inputs, and MW.h(th) x 0.324 for thermal inputs converted to MW.h(el) compared to Tcase8’s 900 , so that’s reasonably close.

    You might expect then that the ERoEI was going to be ( 1000/57.8 ) = 17.3
    but in fact ISA comes up with ERoEI = 5.6

    Notice that ( 5.6 / 17.3 ) = 0.324
    which is the conversion factor for MW.h(th) to MW.h(el) .

    The discrepancy in ERoEIs can therefore be ascribed to the units that ER and EI are measured in. In both cases the units are those of energy, so ERoEI is a pure number, but in the ISA case ERoEI is measured in KW.h(el)/KW.h(th), whereas in the Tcase8 case they are measured in KW.h(el)/KW.h(el) .

    The question is: which treatment is correct ?
    The short answer would be BOTH are correct – so long as everybody understands which method they are using, but we can’t really have two definitions of ERoEI.

    It is clear that appropriate units for the ER are KW.h(el), because it is an electrical form of energy that is being produced.

    Since the diesel fuel used by the bulldozers and trucks, and the process heat used in calcining the yellowcake (Di-ammonium uranate) to Uranium oxide, and the coking coal used in blast furnaces to reduce iron ore to pig iron for steel, and all the transport stages, are NOT converted to electricity, it seems reasonable to be measuring them in KW.h(th) . The electrical components of EI (powering centrifuges, etc) need to be converted to KW.h(th) because that is actually how the electricity was generated.

    The Tcase8 methodology is effectively saying that the EI should be measured in units of how much electricity those fuels COULD HAVE generated if they were burned in a fossil-fueled power station. This makes the EI appear smaller by a factor of 0.324 (or whatever you assume for the efficiency of fossil-fueled power stations and its proportion of the national electrical energy mix). This in turn makes the ERoEI bigger by a factor of 1/0.324 or 3.09 .

    I cannot say whether the ISA methodology is used everywhere in the energy analysis sector, (I suspect not), but I can say that this methodology is used consistently by ISA in comparing the different technologies in their report.

    So by focusing on an unrealistic greenhouse intensity of 5 compared to ISA’s 57.8, and by omitting the conversion factor, Tcase8 manages to increase ERoEI by a multiple of 35 . (You just can’t trust these nuclear-biased zealots ;-)

    ==================

    Some of the comments on the Tcase8 thread say ERoEI is not a valuable measure, but just as RoI has to stack up, otherwise no commercial organisation would propose the project, likewise ERoEI has to stack up otherwise the project will not be worthwhile. It is just a hurdle that projects have to be able to pass, and is not the whole picture by a long way.

    ==================

    Some comments also raised the subject of energy dynamics, and this is very important, particularly as we have to rebuild the entire electricity generating system and transport fleet while we head into fossil energy capping for Global Warming reasons.

    I have written an article called “The energy dynamics of energy production” (see http://www.peakoil.org.au/news/index.php?energy_profit.htm ) which is aimed at an audience who will probably not want to dig down into the guts of the calculations, but you guys will breeze through that and will (hopefully) want to get into the spreadsheet which is at http://www.peakoil.org.au/news/energy-profit.xls .

    It models a simple scenario where all the EI needs to be invested up front, and has no maintenance and decommissioning energy costs. It is an approximation of solar PV. You can adjust the Lifetime, ERoEI and annual growth rate and see how the industry-wide energy profit plays out over time. The results are almost counter-intuitive – there is an “energy barrier” to ramping up a new technology to national scale, because you need to use energy NOW to get more back in the future, so demand for solar panels becomes, in the short term, demand for fossil fuels. The barrier is higher when the ERoEI is lower.

    You are welcome to mess with the spreadsheet and introduce a more complex energy budget over its timeframe – all I ask is that you save your spreadsheet with a different filename and change the signature on the charts before spreading your version around, so as not to confuse the masses as to who said what.

  337. A quick (ongoing) summary of the first & only solar power towers operating (all none baseload) :

    35MW global installed nameplate capacity over 3 plants 1 in USA and 2 in Spain ->

    USA – Sierra SunTower 5MW

    no storage (online July 2009)
    cost appears to be NOT public. I can’t find any costs.
    Incentives: Expected 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC, 5-year MACRS)
    Supposed to be 8.5GWh in the first year, which is from following doc (not actual generated) ->

    http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/FINAL_RESOLUTION/112928.htm

    Country: United States
    City: Lancaster
    State: California
    Lat/Long Location: 34°46′ North, 118°8′ West
    Solar Resource: 2,629 kWh/m2/yr
    Source of Solar Resource: NREL SUNY TDY data

    Spain’s PS 10 & 20 are part of a larger 300MW demo plant of other mixed renewables. None of the remaining capacity will be power tower ->

    From PS10 final report ->

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/sectors/doc/csp/ps10_final_report.pdf

    “PS10 investment cost is about 35.000.000 €. The project has been granted with some public
    contributions because of its highly innovative features. In this sense, 5th Framework Programme of
    European Commission has contributed through DG TREN (Directorate General for Transport and
    Energy) to PS10 investment costs with a 5.000.000 € subvention. In the same way, the regional
    administration through the Consejería de Innovación Ciencia y Empresa in the Junta de Andalucía
    Autonomic Government has supported PS10 project with 1.200.000 €. PS10 has also financial support
    from low interest credit programs of Central Government through the Ministerio de Educación y
    Ciencia and its PROFIT program.
    Economical feasibility for PS10 project is supported by Spanish legislation that foresee a solar tariff
    about 0,18€/kWh over pool market electricity price for –CST (Concentrating Solar Thermal)– plants,
    this results in an approximate selling price for solar thermal electricity of about €0,21 per kWh.
    Renewable regulations and solar premium are recognized in Royal Decree 436/2004 and some other
    later dispositions.”

    > PS 10 11MW

    1h water storage / with 15% nat gas (online June 25 2007), NREL states : 23,400 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)
    Construction / break ground -> 28th of June, 2004 (3 years to build – not including planning)
    Tariff Rate: 27.1188 Euro cents per kWh
    Tariff Period: 25 years
    Tariff Information: Total Price = Pool + Tariff Rate
    Incentives: 1.2 million Euros from Andalusian Regional Government
    5.0 million Euros from European Commission under FP5
    Cost 35m Euro

    25 km West from the city of Seville

    Country:Spain
    City:Sevilla
    Region:Sanlúcar la Mayor
    Lat/Long Location:37°26′ 30.97″ North, 6°14′ 59.98″ West
    Land Area:55 hectares
    Solar Resource:2,012 kWh/m2/yr

    More from the PS 10 Final Report ->

    “At the present stage of Central Receiver technology development, it is considered a key point the scaling-up to a first generation demonstration system operating in a commercial basis and with a nominal power in the range of 10-50 MW. It is the goal of the PS10 project to design, construct and operate in a commercial basis a first-of-its-kind 10 MW solar CRS plant (Central Receiver System)”

    “Abengoa pioneered the first formal proposal of a solar thermal power plant in summer1999, after having defined the main parameters of the project. In January 2000, Abengoa through its subsidiary company Inabensa, together with Ciemat, DLR and Fichtner successfully applied for a 5.000.000 € subsidy to European Commission.”

    “Spanish regulations don’t allow hybridisation of CST plants out of the limits of 15% of annual
    generated electricity from fossil fuels. In this sense one of the key factors for a CST plant design is
    related to the decision of considering dailies shut-downs and start-ups of the steam turbine, or in the
    other hand, to consider huge storage capacity to cover at least in several months in the year (summer
    time) night periods in operation running the turbine from storage, reducing so the number of
    stoppages and cools of the turbine. ”

    “For cloudy transient periods, the plant has
    a saturated water thermal storage system
    with a thermal capacity of 20 MWh,
    equivalent to an effective operational
    capacity of 50 minutes at 50% turbine
    workload. ”

    > PS 20 20MW

    1h water storage / with nat gas – have no exact % figure. (online April 22, 2009) NREL states : 48,000 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)
    Break Ground: 2006 (time to build 3 years – not including planning)

    Tariff Rate: 27.1188 Euro cents per kWh
    Tariff Period: 25 years
    Tariff Information: Total Price = Pool + Tariff Rate
    Project Type: Commercial plant
    Incentives: 1.9 million Euros from Andalusian Regional Government
    COSTS ? STILL CANT FIND ANY

    25 km West from the city of Seville

    Country:Spain
    City:Sevilla
    Region:Sanlúcar la Mayor
    Lat/Long Location:37°26′ 30.97″ North, 6°14′ 59.98″ West
    Land Area:80 hectares
    Solar Resource:2,012 kWh/m2/yr

    >Next expected online :

    > Gemasolar 17MW

    15h molten salt storage / 15% nat gas fossil fuel, expected on line early 2011
    Cost (approx): 230,000,000 Euro (NREL)
    100,000 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)

    Country:Spain
    City:Fuentes de Andalucía
    Region:Andalucía (Sevilla) – about 20km east of Seville (someone please double check this distance)
    Lat/Long Location:37°33′ 44.95″ North, 5°19′ 49.39″ West
    Land Area: 190 hectares
    Solar Resource:2,062 kWh/m2/yr

    > Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project / Tonopah 100MW

    10h molten salt storage

    Cost $700 to $800m US – estimated according to :

    http://www.tonopahsolar.com/Portals/11/Tonopah_Crescent_Dunes_POD_2009_11_23.pdf

    Expected online Aug 2013

    Country:United States
    City:Tonopah
    State:Nevada
    County:Nye
    Region:Northern Nevada, northwest of Tonopah
    Land Area:1,600 acres
    Solar Resource:2,685 kWh/m2/yr
    Source of Solar Resource:NREL Solar Power Prospector
    Electricity Generation: 480,000 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)

  338. Gregory

    do the problems around mining that lower eroei for nuclear do the same for wind/solar?

    Well they would if the supply of silica for processing into silicon for PV substrate was getting low. Whatever is in shortest supply for the process will be the limiting factor – Indium for GaInAs for doping the silicon has been suggested as a bottleneck.

    I suspect that it will be a shortage of oil to drive the entire transport network that hits first. That will have repercussions for every industry, including mining, the electricity generating industry and servicing the national grid and the road system.

    US oil production rate peaked in 1970 and is now 40% off the peak, despite them still having 30 billion barrels still left underground, and being addicted to oil. Australia’s oil production rate peaked in 2000 and is now 31% off (BP2010).

  339. Dave K since I had no backup copy of Excel after a computer crash I’ll have to buy it to see your spreadsheet. I note the UK Dept of Energy and Climate Change is now asking the UK public to comment on their spreadsheets that model 6 energy paths to 2050.

    On the low carbon transition problem obviously higher EROEI (however defined) or shorter payback should be preferred for the replacement technology. This is a major shortcoming of ZCA2020. It blithely assumes we can drop current demands for fossil fuel and invest as much energy as needed in solar towers, windmills and transmission. Nor do they impose any CO2 constraints for the period 2010-2020.

    Further complications lie ahead with EREOI calcs such as coupled system averages; example inefficient hydrogen production but efficient use in fuel cells. Now to get Excel.

  340. The environmentalist par excellence George Monbiot has been having a hard time opposing the introduction of a UK feed-in tariff for solar PV, with environmentalists displaying a “level of viciousness displayed (that has to) be seen to be believed.”

    George argues along a similar line to Peter Lang :

    Against my instincts I’ve come to oppose solar photovoltaic power (PV) in the UK, and the feed-in tariffs designed to encourage it, because the facts show unequivocally that this is a terrible investment…Money spent on ineffective solutions is not just a waste: it’s also a lost opportunity…Environmentalists have no trouble understanding this argument when lobbying against nuclear power…The real net cost of the solar PV installed in Germany between 2000 and 2008 was E35bn…By 2008 solar PV was producing a grand total of 0.6% of Germany’s electricity. 0.6% for E35bn. Hands up all those who think this is a good investment.

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/03/12/the-german-disease/

  341. Mike S I just remembered myself that Open Office has xml capability . Even the student edition of MS Excel is around $US200. Copying software is like not paying fuel excise on biodiesel, only something you hear about.

    Re which the Olympic Dam mine expansion will supposedly use 19 billion litres of diesel. The announcement on the expansion was due last month but silence. They not only need the diesel but 690 MWe of power and a 200 megalitre a day desal. BHP’s preferred site for the desal is on a narrow gulf and will draw ~40MW from the grid. If they had a NPP on the exposed coastline they could solve 3 problems
    1) no drain on the State gas and coal fired grid
    2) electric mining machinery not diesel
    3) cheaper less controversial desalination.

  342. While I think there’s a lot of useful critique going on here, I don’t think the ‘he said, I said’ format of a blog post comment list is the best place to set it out.

    Maybe a wiki format, with specific points from ZCA laid out in pages.

    Or maybe, like nuclear, CST, and wind, it’s another technology that isn’t there yet.

  343. Hi Tony,

    We are sounding / researching through all the issues of the ZCA report. A document is being put together based on the discussion on the thread. We hope to have it completed fairly soon, most likely over the next week or so. Please also feel free to get involved in the discussion.

    Good suggestion re wiki, you’ll have to take up the format with Barry, but for now this is it I’m afraid.

    Hope you will find the critique useful and of course we welcome any input on it too.

  344. Dave Kimble,

    You seem to support the ISA’s figure of 57.8kg CO2-e/MWh for nuclear. I understand this is a highly conservative figure (i.e. high) and has been dismissed as troo high by most – other than by RE zealots :) .

    I understand the Emissions Intensity of nuclear is genrally accepted as about 10 to 20 kg CO2/MWh, except by the RE zealots :)

    The figure will decrease as we move away from fossil fules and as mining, processing and enrichment techniques improve, as they are doing all the time.
    Whatever the figure is it is so low as to be negligible and not worth wasting time discussing.

    By the way, I understand the Emissions Intensity of wind energy (when backup is included which it must be for a fair comparison with baseload generators) is around 600 kg CO2-e/MWh, or about 30 times higher than nuclear, http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

  345. ZCA report p27 :

    When comparing the solar power tower with ANU paraboidal dish :

    Dish ->

    “Energy storage is not yet demonstrated commercially, though it is compatible with molten salt storage, and others such as the ammonia thermochemical storage system at ANU.”

    Power Tower ->

    “Molten salt thermal storage has been demonstrated with power towers.”

    Yes, at Solar 2, but NOT commercially. That’s one of the things that Gemasolar 17MW will be doing, when its finished.

  346. Good to hear, Bryan.
    (I got sent here by someone who dismissed the report as having ‘cringeworthy mistakes on every page he read’. I don’t know how many pages he read, but I don’t think it’s *that* bad!)

  347. German power tower research at the German Aerospace Centre ->

    http://www.dlr.de/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-1/86_read-19289/

    “On 20 August 2009, the solar thermal experimental and demonstration power plant in Jülich (Solarthermisches Versuchs- und Demonstrationskraftwerk Jülich; STJ) was officially handed over to its future operator, the Jülich Department of Works, by the general contractor, Kraftanlagen München. The technology for the core of the facility, the receiver, was developed and patented by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).”

    “The power plant will supply 1.5 megawatts when operated at its rated capacity. A heat storage module that extends across two stories of the tower is integrated into the plant. This heat storage module contains ceramic filling material through which hot air flows and which can thus be heated. When discharging, the process works in reverse: the heat storage module releases its energy so that power can also be produced when clouds pass overhead.”

    “The project will be supported by a research programme spanning several years which, as well as providing scientific support for the operation of the power plant, will in particular develop methods for optimising operation, assuring quality and developing the technology in order to further improve the competitiveness of the facilities. “

  348. Here is a good link to report about the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) Julich 1.5MW power tower ->

    http://homes.esat.kuleuven.be/~optec/events/workshops/solar/B_Hoffschmidt.pdf

    Performance of Plant in Jülich
    Maximal Electrical Power: 1,5 MW
    Solar Radiation / DNI 800 kWh/m2a
    Solar Multiple 1,2
    Full Load hours 1000 h
    Energy Production 1000 MWh/a
    Ground Demand 18 ha (Algeria 6-8 ha)

    Note it appears to be hybridised with gas. Cost unknown, running since 20 Aug 2009

  349. I would be interested to see evidence that Ivanpah construction has started. Anyone ?? This looks like would be at least 6 years in the making, just from the CEC app date. I would then add at least a previous year to get the planning app together

    This link ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ivanpah/index.html

    gives the California Energy Commission (CEC) page on the too be built Ivanpah (400MW) solar power tower system.

    “On August 31, 2007, Solar Partners I, LLC, Solar Partners II, LLC, Solar Partners IV, LLC and Solar Partners VIII, LLC (Solar Partners) submitted a single Application for Certification (AFC) to the California Energy Commission to develop three solar thermal power plants and shared facilities in close proximity to the Ivanpah Dry Lake, in San Bernardino County, California on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The proposed project would be constructed in three phases: two 100-megawatt (MW) phases (known as Ivanpah 1 and Ivanpah 2) and a 200-MW phase (Ivanpah 3). ”

    “Project Description

    The proposed project includes three solar concentrating thermal power plants, based on distributed power tower and heliostat mirror technology, in which heliostat (mirror) fields focus solar energy on power tower receivers near the center of each heliostat array. Each 100-MW site would require approximately 850-acres (or 1.3 square miles) and would have three tower receivers and arrays; the 200-MW site would require approximately 1,600-acres (or 2.5 square miles) and would have 4 tower receivers and arrays. The total area required for all three phases would including the administration building/operations and maintenance building and substation and be approximately 3,400-acres (or 5.3 square miles). Given that the three plants would be developed in concert, the proposed solar plant projects would share the common facilities mentioned above to include access roads, and the reconductored transmission lines for all three phases. Construction of the entire project is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2009, with construction being completed in the last quarter of 2012.”

    “Each plant also includes a partial-load natural gas-fired steam boiler, which would be used for thermal input to the turbine during the morning start-up cycle to assist the plant in coming up to operating temperature more quickly. The boiler would also be operated during transient cloudy conditions, in order to maintain the turbine on-line and ready to resume production from solar thermal input, after the clouds pass. After the clouds pass and solar thermal input resumes, the turbine would be returned to full solar production.”

    “Each solar development phase would include:

    a natural gas-fired start-up boiler to provide heat for plant start-up and during temporary cloud cover;

    an air-cooled condenser or “dry cooling,” to minimize water usage in the site’s desert environment;

    one Rankine-cycle reheat steam turbine that receives live steam from the solar boilers and reheat steam from one solar reheater located in the power block at the top of its own tower adjacent to the turbine;
    and
    a raw water tank with a 250,000 gallon capacity; 100,000 gallons to be used for the plant and the remainder to be reserved for fire water.

    a small onsite wastewater plant located in the power block that treats wastewater from domestic waste streams such as showers and toilets;

    auxiliary equipment including feed water heaters, a deaerator, an emergency diesel generator, and a diesel fire pump.”

    “Transmission

    Ivanpah 1, 2 and 3 would be interconnected to the Southern California Edison (SCE) grid through upgrades to SCE’s 115-kV line passing through the site on a northeast-southwest right-of-way. Upgrades would include a new 220/115-kV breaker and-a-half substation between the Ivanpah 1 and 2 project sites. The existing 115-kV transmission line from the El Dorado substation would be replaced with a double-circuit 220-kV overhead line that would be interconnected to the new substation. Power from Ivanpah 1, 2 and 3 would be transmitted at 115-kV to the new substation.

    Natural Gas

    Natural gas supply for ISEGS would connect to the Kern River Gas Transmission Company (KRGT) pipeline about 0.5 miles north of the Ivanpah 3 site.”

    “Water Use and Discharge

    Raw ground water would be drawn from one of two wells, located east of Ivanpah 2, which would provide water to all three plants. Each well would have sufficient capacity to supply water for all three phases. Actual water is not expected to exceed 100 afy for all three plants. Groundwater would go through a treatment system for use as boiler make-up water and to wash the heliostats. No wastewater would be generated by the system, except for a small stream that would be treated and used for landscape irrigation.”

    NREL ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=62

    Status: Under development
    Country: United States
    City: Primm, NV
    State: California
    County: San Bernardino, CA
    Lat/Long Location: 35°33′ 8.5″ North, 115°27′ 30.97″ West
    Land Area: 4,073 acres
    Solar Resource: 2,717 kWh/m2/yr
    Source of Solar Resource: NREL Solar Power Prospector
    Electricity Generation: 1,079,232 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)

    Break Ground: January 2010
    Start Production: October 2013

    Power Block
    Turbine Capacity (Gross): 468.0 MW
    Turbine Capacity (Net): 440.0 MW
    Turbine Description: Gross is 117 MW per unit; net is 110 MW per unit
    Output Type: Rankine
    Cooling Method: Dry cooling
    Annual Solar-to-Electricity Efficiency (Gross): 28.72%
    Fossil Backup Type: Natural gas

    NOTE : NO STORAGE listed by NREL or BrightSource or CEC

    BrightSource page is here, has google map of location too ->

    http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/projects/ivanpah

    “BrightSource is currently developing its first solar power complex in California’s Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will be located in Ivanpah, approximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, and about five miles from the California-Nevada border. ”

    “Located approximately 4.5 miles southwest of Primm, Nevada, in the desert on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.”

    “The approximately 400 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will consist of three separate plants and provide electricity to PG&E and Southern California Edison. Commencement of construction on the first plant is scheduled for the second half of 2010, following permitting review by the California Energy Commission and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The first plant is scheduled to come online in mid-2012.”

    “The Ivanpah project has received a conditional commitment for a more than $1.3 billion loan guarantee by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to help fund this project. The loan is part of the DOE’s Title XVII loan guarantee program, which was started in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act, to support commercially viable technology in addition to innovative renewable energy technology.”

    & a pdf flyer ->

    http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/images/uploads/Brightsource_Ivanpah_Fast_Facts.pdf

    ———

    Have no other cost info, anyone?

  350. This page gives a brief overview of the CSIRO’s 500kw power tower demo plant in Newcastle ->

    http://www.rise.org.au/info/Tech/hightemp/index.html

    http://www.csiro.au/news/ps1i8.html

    http://www.csiro.au/places/Solar-Energy-Centre.html

    “Solar towers

    The high concentration array is used to provide the high temperatures needed to produce SolarGas, a syngas mixture that contains 25 per cent more energy than the natural gas feeding into the process.
    Solar hydrogen can potentially be extracted from this SolarGas. SolarGas and solar hydrogen provide all the benefits of solar energy with the convenience of gas, and in this way enable solar energy to be stored and transported.
    The technology also serves as a transitional route toward higher levels of solar penetration into the energy mix.”

    Information on this power tower is practically none existent. No storage or costs etc are mentioned. Obviously it runs as natural gas/solar system.

    Can anyone point me at something?

  351. Peter,

    You seem to support the ISA’s figure of 57.8kg CO2-e/MWh for nuclear.

    I’m not an expert in the technology, so for me to criticise ISA would be a bit rude. Their report contains an extensive meta-analysis and then justifications for the numbers they use for their Low-Medium-High scenarios. It is certainly transparent.

    I think the ore grade sounds high at 0.15% for the next 40 years, and I think the Load Factor at 85% is high for a country’s first commercial reactor. I recall reading that the entire history of commercial reactors has a Load Factor of ~70% and for recent times ~75% worldwide. Experienced nations are getting 90% and I don’t know if there is anything further to be gained.

    ISA used a 70-30 split between centrifuge and diffusion enrichment, reflecting the current state of play, so there is scope for that to improve.

    It would be interesting to plug the numbers from other sources into the ISA spreadsheet so that we could be comparing using the same methodology.

    If you can demonstrate a better methodology, I would be open to persuasion, but its not really me that needs to be persuaded, its the Australian Government.

    I should just mention that the report and the spreadsheets are owned by Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and they should be approached for rights to publish them. Use here is Fair Use in my humble opinion.

    … the Emissions Intensity of wind energy (when backup is included which it must be for a fair comparison with baseload generators) is around …

    I think we need to know what the Emissions Intensity of wind is, and for all the other technologies. We also need to know about their variability and their dispatchability, and hence their mixability, but that is really a separate issue, no less important though. I agree that the ZCA mix won’t work in adverse circumstances. Burning biomass would be a disaster.

    Given the additional constraints of a reducing fossil fuel cap or going into run-away Global Warming, I don’t think there is a solution. We can certainly make a start on a Grand Plan, but at some stage we will run out of energy to complete it. We should have started fixing the problem 20 years ago when there was some spare capacity. As it is, understanding at the government level of what could work and what couldn’t is appallingly low, so we will end up wasting a lot of precious energy, making things worse.

  352. The local group in Nevada examining the Ivanpah project ->

    http://www.basinandrangewatch.org/

    they also conveniently provide a link to the full Environmental Impact Statement documents at CEC, a total of 64 documents covering the planning application. :

    “Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System- FSA and Draft Environmental Impacts Statement and Draft California Desert Conservation Area Plan Amendment” ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2008publications/CEC-700-2008-013/FSA/

  353. All the CEC links and NREL links contain contact emails / phone nums etc.

    Notice carefully the ownership to Rice Solar Energy, LLC.

    CEC page for Rice Solar Energy Project, California – RSEP (150MW) ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ricesolar/index.html

    “Rice Solar Energy, LLC, (RSE) a wholly owned subsidiary of SolarReserve, LLC, proposes to construct, own, and operate the Rice Solar Energy Project (RSEP or project). The RSEP will be a solar generating facility located on a privately owned site in unincorporated eastern Riverside County, California. The proposed project will be capable of producing approximately 450,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually, with a nominal net generating capacity of 150 megawatts (MW).

    The RSEP will be located in an unincorporated area of eastern Riverside County, California. Land surrounding the project site consists mostly of undeveloped open desert that is owned by the federal government and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).”

    “The proposed facility will use concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, with a central receiver tower and an integrated thermal storage system. ”

    NREL page for RSEP ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=61

    Country: United States
    City: Rice
    State: California
    County: Riverside
    Region: Mojave Desert, near Blythe
    Land Area: 1,410 acres
    Solar Resource: 2,598 kWh/m2/yr
    Source of Solar Resource: NREL Solar Power Prospector
    Electricity Generation: 450,000 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)

    Break Ground: 2011
    Start Production: October 1, 2013

    Power Block
    Turbine Capacity (Net): 150.0 MW
    Output Type: Rankine
    Power Cycle Pressure: 115.0 bars
    Cooling Method: Dry cooling
    Fossil Backup Type: None

    Thermal Storage
    Storage Type: Other
    Thermal Storage Description: Thermal energy storage achieved by raising salt temperature from 550 to 1050 F. Thermal storage efficiency is 99%

    NO COST estimate – anyone ?

  354. James hutchison, an author of the ZCA Plan, asked John Morgan:

    James asked:

    Ok I will spell it out again. My question is why do you continue to support Peter [Lang]‘s costing of Solar thermal when he uses a report (NEEDs) that dosen’t back up what he says?”

    I replied:

    I believe I am interpreting NEEDS (2008) correctly. NEEDS starts by looking at the four main solar thermal technologies. It then looks in more detail at trough and tower technologies. It gives the current expected cost (2007 figures) for trough and tower (Table 2.3). The tower costs are mainly based on the ‘Solar Tres’ (Spain) now called’Gemasolar’. NEEDS derives a figures of EUR10,140/kW in 2007 Euros for their best guess of the current (2007 cost of solar thermal tower with 15 h energy storage at full power). If we convert that to Australian dolars at the rate of A$1 = EUR0.6 and escalate to 2010 A$ we get a figure of A$22.5/W. However, An updated cost were released in April 2009 soon after the start of construction. These convert to A$24.8/W for Gemasolar. I gave a rounded figure of $20/W in my previous discussions. The cost of ‘Gemasolar’/’Solar Tres’ has increased by a factor of 160% from 2005 to 2009, and more increase is likely before it is completed.

    The figures you referred to on pages 31, 32 and 6x of NNEDS are not relevant because they apply to the trough technology not the tower. Also, you cannot read the cost from the projected learning curves for 2010 because the learning curve has not applied. In fact, the cost of solar have escalated at over 15% pa.

    I uderstand ZCA is basing its costs on the forecast cost for Tonopah, USA. I understand the estimated cost is $700 to $800 million in 2009 US$. This converts to A$10.4/W. That figures agrees with the ZCA plan. However, Tonpah has not started. It is still a concept It doesn’t have approval yet. There is no final design or final cost exstimate, let alone the final cost from construction It will be years before it is completed. The costs can be expected to escalate by at least 50% during that time and probably more (in constant 2010 dollars).

    Furthermore, I understand Tonopah is intended to have only 10h storage at full power compared with 15h at Gemasolar. So Gemasoiar needs a solar field roughly 30% more than Tonopah and energy storage 50% more. To compare the costs on an equivalent basis, Tonopah’s costs need to be increased by say 40%, to say A$15/W.

    Then escalate this because the project has not begun yet and the csts will escalat until the project is completed.

    I understand that Tonopah is expectd to have a capacity factor around 55% (100MW, 480,000 MWh/y) (http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=60

    This, of course is nowhere near the 72% capacity factor assumed as the basis for the ZCA 2020 Plan.

    If you have better information than I have, could you please post the links to the sources here.

    Follow and contribute to the dialogue here:
    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/2020-vision#comment-774

  355. Peter, one more factor about the Tonopah Nevada facility has been overlooked. The $700 to $800 million figure represents overnight costs. Were the Tonopah facility financed like an ordinary power generation facility, that figure would likely double when interest is included. The 55% capacity factor is based on performance estimates that were made before the less efficient air cooling system was mandated by the state of Nevada. That will lead to about a 10% reduction in system efficiency, so the real capacity factor is likely to drop to around 50%. Thus the unsubsidized cost of the Tonopah facility is likely to run to around $16 per kW for a facility that will produce little more than half as much power as a nuclear power plant. This points to a levelized cost of about 4 times the levelized cost of the nuclear facility. Given these facts, the choice of solar tower electrical generation facilities to provide future Australian electricity would be a colossal blunder.

  356. Peter,

    None of the solar thermal power tower plants listed in ZCA 2020 report Table 3.5 are commercially operational. Those figures are estimates of outputs AFTER construction has taken place. In addition, I am not aware that Solar Tres was EVER built. That design ended up being Gemasolar.
     
    These fact needs to be clearly labelled on the ZCA 2020 report Table 3.5, page 53. 

    Also, the Solar 220 salt storage specified by S & L 2003 is 12.7h, see SunLabs capital costings page 5-21 Table 5-13.
    +
    S&L (2003) – Page 5-26 Table 5-19, Solar 220 thermal storage specified as 13.1h.
    +
    S&L (2003) – Page 5-38 Table 5-27 Solar 220 thermal storage specified as 16h.
     
    So thats three different storage time figures, none of which are the 17h which ZCA 2020 report claims.

    Regarding Gemasolar ->

    S&L (2003) Section 5.8.1 Deployment, page 5-50 ->

    “The earliest a plant would be operational in the United States is 2009 based on the first commercial plant going in service in 2006 in Spain or South Africa, operational experience of at least one year, and two years for design enhancements, manufacturing, and construction.”

    So S&L are saying here that after Gemasolar goes online, the earliest they’d be prepared to build one in USA is 3 years later. Assuming that Gemasolar goes online early 2011, that would mean the USA’s first “gas / solar” power tower 17MW with 15h storage would go online in 2014 (according to S&L 2003).

  357. In fact the discussion in ZCA 2020 on p53 is misleading again ->

    “From the pipeline of actual projects seen in Table 3.5, it can
    be seen that the commercialisation is following the scale-
    up projected originally by Sargent & Lundy/SunLab, with
    Torresol’s Gemasolar the equivalent of the Solar Tres, and
    SolarReserve’s Alcazar equivalent to the scaled up Solar 50.”

    Now the plants

    It doesn’t even follow S&L 2003. Well not that I can see. i.e.

    ZCA confusing trough with tower & installation timelines do not match S&L 2003
    ->

    ZCA 2020 report P57, Stage 2
    2015-2020 :
    “It is expected that the construction time of a Solar 220 module will drop to 1.5 years, as the industry experience streamlines the rollout. The Andasol projects already completed in Spain took 1.5 years to construct”

    Incorrect, Andasol’s are 50MW solar troughs with 12% natgas (according to NREL). They are all in Spain, not in Australia. And they are not Solar 220MW power towers (which haven’t ever been built in any case).

    Also Andasol 2 is still being commisioned and Andasol 3 is still being constructed since construction began on it in Feb 2007, according to the company that runs them ->
    http://www.solarmillennium.de/Technologie/Referenzprojekte/Andasol/Die_A

    “As Europe’s first ever parabolic trough power plant, Andasol 1 is in operation on the Guadix plateau in the province of Granada. In February 2007 the construction of Andasol 2 started in its immediate vicinity. Today, this second power plant is in the test phase.”

    “Another power plant, Andasol 3, which is basically identical in construction, is being built in the direct vicinity. Andasol 3 is being realised by Stadtwerke München and RWE Innogy together with Ferrostaal, RheinEnergie and Solar Millennium and is scheduled to connect to the grid in 2011.”

    “Each power plant has an electricity output of 50 megawatts and operates with thermal storage. A full thermal reservoir can continue to run the turbines for about 7.5 hours at full-load”

    * ZCA report p57, Section 3.1.6 “Installation Timeline” ->

    “Stage 1 (2010-2015): It is proposed that a target of 8,700
    MW is set for installation by 2015, to be distributed across a
    number of the 12 sites depending on least cost opportunities
    for prioritising transmission infrastructure. An equal
    distribution across the 12 sites would end up with 725 MW
    at each one. This will involve fast tracking of site acquisition,
    and other planning measures in order to meet these tight
    timeframes. The plants will include 17 hours of storage — to
    provide 55 TWh/yr. The Torresol/SolarReserve towers and
    receivers would be built in module sizes such as 50, 75,
    100, 150 and 200 MW. The first-of-a-kind plants will take
    2.5 years to construct, as seen with SolarReserve’s Rice
    and Tonopah projects8.”

    SolarReserve’s Rice and Tonopah projects haven’t been built yet though. And yet this sentence from the ZCA report, to me at least, gives the impression that they are built.

    RESP – Rice (150MW) Break ground estimated as 2011, online as October 1, 2013 ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=61&amp;

    100MW Crescent Dunes Tonopah project which will

    a) only contain 10h storage
    b) isn’t expected to be finished until July 2013 (480,000 MWh/yr (Expected/Planned)) :

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=60

    & also see the SolarReserve press release ->

    http://solarreserve.com/news/SolarReservePUCNApprovalAnnouncement072810.pdf

    “SolarReserve expects to receive environmental approvals by the end of 2010″

    *** In addition the 100MW Ivanpah ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ivanpah/index.html

    is made up of smaller plant, i.e. its NOT a Solar 100.

    My understanding of a Solar 100 (& indeed all the Solar XXX) is that it has a single tower. What I’m getting at is that there is the possibility in ZCA report p54-55 (possible elsewhere also) that they are conflating forthcoming plant with the Solar XXX of the same MW

    e.g. a 100MW plant (which consists of say 2 x 50MW or 2 x Solar 50’s) is assumed to be a Solar 100, etc. But it isn’t. This would surely make the deployment timeline appear quicker & possibly alter other calculations (e,g, land area, water use …). I need to go over this more thoroughly, and would appreciate someone else checking this too.

  358. Page 21:

    A concentrated effort to flatten the Victorian winter gas usage peak would yield major gains in flattening the Australian energy demand profile over the year. The flattening would be achieved primarily by thermal insulation of Victorian commercial buildings and households. This can reduce heating loads by a factor of 2-4. A program of replacing gas furnace heating with heat pumps would further reduce space heating energy demand by a factor of 4, given an 80% efficiency for gas furnaces and 320% seasonal average efficiency for heat pumps. It is therefore reasonable to assume that given widespread implementation of heat pump and building efficiency improvement in Victoria, “winter peak”, space heating requirements could be reduced by around a factor of 10.

    The concept of shifting Victorian gas heating to electric heat pump may have a greenhouse advantage in the context of low emission generation, such as renewables or nuclear, but most greenhouse reduction strategies to date have focused on maintaining Victorian gas heating in preference to electric heat pump. While peak demand for electricity supply is a major challenge, natural gas supply only needs to meet demand on a day by day basis, rather than a second by second basis. Natural gas pipelines provide both a short term storage facility and transmission medium. The main pipeline from Longford to Dandenong is 750mm diameter and 174 km long. The linepack is a measure of the quantity of gas in the pipeline, and typically varies by 50% according to the daily difference between the regular supply, and demand which peaks around breakfast and dinner during winter.

    In Victoria, there are approximately 780,000 gas ducted heating systems with an average 20 kW furnace consuming an average 58 GJ/annum, and 650,000 non-ducted gas heaters with an average 10 kW furnace consuming an average 29 GJ/annum. If there was a wholesale change-over to electric heat pumps, assuming a COP which is 3 times better than a gas furnace, would translate to 780,000 units at 6.7 kW(e) and 650,000 units at 3.3 kW(e). If all units were running at the same time, the total load would be 7.3 GW, which would likely lead to brown-outs based on current supply constraints. In practice, not all units would be on, and under normal circumstances, the units would be cycling. However, unlike commercial HVAC systems which are designed professionally and costed accordingly, domestic systems are sized according to budget and often aggressive quoted, and usually struggle in extreme conditions, so the assumption of cycling can lead to unpredicted outcomes. Peak demand is related to nameplate power and not “average” power, where extreme climatic conditions can result in the compressor running 100% of the time. Although the MEPS scheme for air conditioners is generally a step forward, budgetry constraints prevent a comprehensive audit process, leading to ongoing non-compliance with minimum standards

    The report failed to observe that most heat pumps cut-out or perform poorly below around 5 degrees due to evaporator freezing and some utilize an electric element to provide back-up. In cool climates, such as North America, ground source heat pumps have been utilized for a number of years to overcome this problem, but costs are typically an additional $5,000 to $10,000 on top of the basic system cost. In the event of a wholesale conversion to heat pumps, there is likely to be significant problems with peak demand during the handful of near-freezing conditions that Melbourne experiences some years. It is also likely that a large number of households would need conversion to 3 phase power to provide the required power. Also note for reference that many Victorian households will typically consume twice as much gas as electricity, therefore probably doubling household electricity consumption with a switch from gas heating to electric. Of interest is that there is a substantial Australian manufacturing content in gas furnaces, but negligible manufacturing of domestic heat pumps.

    The blase assumptions of reducing demand through insulation requires heroic assumptions regarding the existing stock of homes. Regrettably, we carry the legacy of poor efficiency standards with most homes generally rated from 0 to 2 stars. To bring a pre-90’s home to something remotely like current BCA 6 star building standards (first order anecdotal cost estimates) would require ceiling insulation (mostly already done now but $1,600 otherwise), wall insulation (blown in fibretex at $3,000 to $5,000), double glazing ($5,000 to $10,000), under floor insulation ($1,000 to $2,000), roof sarking ($1,000), sealing and draught prevention ($1,000 to $2,000). If we conservatively allowed $10,000 per home for 1 million homes comes out at $10 B. Some classes of homes, such as the post-war pre-fab concrete homes built for returned servicemen, will remain inefficient for the life of the home. Note that new homes make up an additional around 2% to 3% per annum of total homes so the legacy of existing stock is long lived. The report doesn’t appear to make recommendations as to who should pay for this. Despite a number of energy efficiency measures, some of which have significant scope for expansion, a combination of increasing house size, “comfort creep”, expanding population and Jevon’s Paradox suggest that space heating consumption will continue growing for the foreseeable future.

    Of interest is that the Victorian VEET energy efficiency scheme already provides a rebate for the upgrade of a high efficiency gas furnace or the retrofit of new high efficiency ductwork, and the Victorian Government recently doubled the energy efficiency target.

    In summary, given a conversion of generation to low emission sources, a long term strategy to space heating through electric heat pump may be sensible, but a prudent approach would be to put the low emission (renewables or nuclear) generation in place first with a planned conversion over years. Interestingly, there was a consumer led conversion from oil heating to gas heating in Melbourne in response to high oil prices in the 1970’s, leading to a 88% decline in oil consumption for domestic heating from 1977 to 1982. The issue of peak electrical demand would remain regardless, and in this sense, natural gas is a far better option. As a general principle, solar and winter are not good matches, particular in a context where solar has not reached viability in a summer context yet. The premature advocacy of the replacement of reliable, effective and relatively greenhouse friendly space heating with electric heat pumps is misguided and naive, and likely to lead to perverse outcomes.

  359. Spain Alcazar :

    http://www.solar-reserve.com/pressReleases/Alcazar-Cinco_Casas_Permitting_ENG.pdf

    “The Alcázar Solar Thermal Power Project is being developed near the town of Alcázar de San Juan, about 180 km south of Madrid.”

    “The SolarReserve technology enables the power facility to generate electricity “on demand” from renewable solar energy including operation of up to 24 hours per day and annual capacity factors in excess of 80%. In addition, the project will utilize a dry-cooled design requiring just 15% of the water consumed by comparable solar thermal projects with wet cooling.”

    Environmental permit issued : 2009 (Press release dated Nov 17 2009,
    Construction expected to begin 2010
    50MW @ 300,000MWh / yr

    Costs ?
    Storage ?
    Gas hybrid ?

    There is so little information on Alcazar (50MW).

    Nothing at NREL.

    http://www.ntgr8.com/Utility-Solar-Thermal-Projects.html

    lists its status as 2011 (whatever they take status to mean at ntgr8.com ??)

    The important thing to watch with Alcazar : Will it be a Solar 50, or will it be a bunch of smaller towers making up 50MW (in which case it would not be a Solar 50)

    S&L 2003 (p3-6 / 7) – gives first Solar 50 as ->

    Sunlab – 2006 (in which case its 5 years behind prediction assuming completion in 2011)
    S&L – 2009 (in which case its 2 years behind prediction assuming completion in 2011)

    Then according to S&L it would be 3 years in service until they build one in the USA. ->

    S&L (2003) Section 5.8.1 Deployment, page 5-50 ->
    “The earliest a plant would be operational in the United States is 2009 based on the first commercial plant going in service in 2006 in Spain or South Africa, operational experience of at least one year, and two years for design enhancements, manufacturing, and construction.”

    * Basically, the ZCA plan doesn’t stack up in terms of deployment timeframes compared to their own preferred reference – S&L 2003.

    ZCA report p 54 states ->

    “Since the Sargent and Lundy report in 2003 the development of the CST industry has been progressing, as has research and development.”

    NOT for solar power towers though!

    According to US DOE May 24-27 – 2010, its only just restarted after it stopped after Solar 2! ->

    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/review_meeting/pdfs/prm2010_snl_kolb.pdf

    “After a several year lapse, Power Tower R&D is once again a principal agreement within the DOE solar program”

    US DOE with Industry Partners are still planning the power tower roadmap. US DOE also state in this 2010 document that storage is cost effective for 13h.

    “In a molten salt power tower, LEC is reduced by adding up to 13 hours of storage”

    ZCA ref a more recent Sargent & Lundy (2005) on p54 ->

    http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports/sargent_lundy_2005.pdf

    S&L 2005 also gives estimated deployment times and thermal storage times that are different from ZCA e.g. p15-16 ->

    Solar Tres USA – 2006 – 16h storage
    Solar 100 – 2008 – 13h storage
    Solar 220 – 2020 – 13h storage

    Copy and pasting from this S&L doc is protected, but the last para of conclusion on p24 again states that tower will need to be integrated with gas. This seems to be a copy and paste of their previous para on trough, because in tower paragraph it says trough also. I;ve noticed this slip in S&L 2003 in their tower section also.

    There seems to be a world of confusion out their between the status of “trough” & “tower”. Even S&L get them mixed up in their reports…. a rush copy & paste job ??? hmmmmm.

  360. Further comments regarding heating:

    The adoption of reverse cycle heat pumps for winter would lead to increased penetration of refrigerated air conditioning during summer in preference to evaporative cooling, which has traditionally been widely used in Victoria. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (2003) estimated that each additional 1 kW of load due to air conditioners costs an additional $3,300 in network and generation investment, translating to $10,000+ for an average home.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/environ/cities/subs/sub134.pdf

    The encouragement of refrigerated cooling for Victorians is perverse in the context of the challenge of meeting the cost of network upgrades as well as the difficulty in meeting demand from non-schedulable generation assets.

  361. bryen and Graham Palmer,

    We need to get the Critique finished quickly. Each of you has gathered a lot of information and have much of it in your head now. Could you contribute a critique on ZCA2020 ‘Appendix 7 – Implementation timeline’? We need comments today.

    Start by defining and quoting the ZCA2020 assumptions then provide a revision supported by virtually irrefutable arguments and authoritative references.

    Short and succinct and to the point is what we need. Maximum one page (plus a revised version of the ZCA table page 162 if that is possible but I doubt it is at this late stage)

  362. PS – re Appendix 7

    Should also mention that for jobs, most of those NREL links I’ve posted have construction / O&M jobs listed. Also the developers sites / press releases / planning apps (e.g. at CEC) also have job figures.

  363. I need some feedback here please.

    What would be the earliest feasible date we could commission out first solar thermal tower project of the scale assumed in the ZCA2020 plan (i.e., 100MW, 17h molten salt storage)? Thereafter what is the fastest rate we could roll them out?

    Here is a quick brain dump from me:

    1. May 2011 – Australian Government budgets funds for investigations and site selection
    2. 2012 – Government departments award contracts to consultants to begin work
    3. 2012-2015 – Site data collection, investigations, EIA and approvals
    4. 2014 – Tonopah commissioned in USA (earliest date)
    5. 2014-2017, evaluate Tonopah performance, redesign,
    6. 2017 – award contract for construction of first plant
    7. 2017-2020 – construction
    8. 2020 – Commissioning

    To change our planning laws requires legislation. This will take time and will be opposed in Federal and state parliaments if it is controversial and is seen be a potential waste of public funds.

    How much better than this could we do, optimistically?

  364. Something that jumped out at me on the RSEP: it will use up to 222 ML of water per year “for heliostat washing, steam cycle makeup and other process uses” (p.ES-3). Is > 1 ML of water per MW of nominal capacity a reasonable rule of thumb for solar thermal?

    N.B. 222 ML is my translation of ‘180 acre-feet'; damn the Americans and their failure to go metric.

    This seems to roughly equate with the ZCA2020 estimates (341 Litres/MWh), though only if you accept the RSEP apparent ~36% capacity factor assumption.

  365. Peter,

    Forgot to mention earlier ->

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/sectors/doc/csp/csp.pdf

    contains early EC costing / estimates for Spain. I dont know the date of the report, but looking at the text I’d guess around late 2005/early 2006

    PS10 –
    Contract NNE5-1999-0356 (Acronym PS10)
    Title: 10 MW Solar Thermal Power Plant in Southern Spain
    Start date: 01.07.01 Contract duration: 54 months
    Final date: 31.12.05 Total cost (€): 29.437.787
    Eligible costs (€): 16.649.508 EC contribution (€):4.999.963

    Solar Tres / Gemasolar –

    Contract NNE5-2001-369 (Acronym: Solar Tres)
    Title: Molten Salt Solar Thermal Power 15 MWe Demonstration Plant
    Start date: 01.01.03 Contract duration: 54 months
    Final date: 30.06.07 Total cost (€):53.080.095
    Eligible costs (€): 15.343.220 EC contribution (€):5.000.000

    more on the timeline v. soon.

  366. RESP quotes ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ricesolar/documents/applicant/afc/Volume_1/RSEP_2.0_Proj_Description.pdf

    “The project will be capable of producing approximately 450,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually, with a nominal net generating capacity of 150 megawatts (MW). ”

    Capacity factor = Wh/a / (W * 8760h/a)

    I make that CF 50.5%

    Conclusive proof that RSEP does NOT have 17 hours storage, or even close. Wonder what that equates to in hours?

    Tonopah 100MW is CF 55% @ 10h storage

  367. More information – smart grids

    The ZCA plan aims to reduce total energy demand and variability, using a smart grid to smooth electricity demand. Although specific parameters are not provided, the program appears to rely on demand management as a key plank in the program. For example:

    page 20

    The energy demand profile will be further smoothed using smart-grids in combination with an electric vehicle fleet and demand-negating, small scale PV.

    page 22

    Under the ZCA2020 Plan, improved insulation and the use of ‘smart meters’ assists in levelling short term spikes in electricity demand.

    page 93

    The ZCA2020 Plan combats this variation in demand both through system design and active load management, using Smart Grid technologies.

    There is substantial activity both in Australia and worldwide on researching and developing “smart grid” components. The future of smart grids is arousing a significant amount of interest and research funding, and offers some exciting possibilities, particular with remote appliance control and electric vehicle recharging. For example, the Federal Government has the “Smart Cities Smart Grid” program

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/programs-and-rebates/smartgrid.aspx

    and there are a number of initiatives including, for example, the development of Australian Standard AS4755.3.1 for smart meter interfaces.

    http://share.aemo.com.au/smartmetering/Document%20library/Work%20Stream%20documentation/BRWG/Meeting%2007%20-%2016-17%20Sep%2009/09%20BRWG%20Workshop%2007%20-%20NSMP%20and%20the%20AS4755%20Appliance%20Interface%20version%203%20-%2016-17%20Sep%202009.pdf

    However, smart grids are in an early stage of development, and while there may be some rewarding payoffs at some stage, future outcomes remain uncertain. The inertia inherent in energy systems, the existing stock of consumer appliances and large penetration of air conditioners, and the usual development cycle mean that smart grid technology is inevitably a long term venture. The report appears to accept the most optimistic potential outcomes of smart metering as an article of faith, and appears to assume fast-track implementation, although no detail is provided.

    One of the main planks of the report appears to be the ability to readily implement air conditioner demand management strategies, through smart metering, with, presumably, differential pricing. There is no a priori reason to believe that socially palatable differential pricing is going to drive substantial reductions in air conditioner demand on the hottest days. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that even householders that use their cooling systems sparingly will nonetheless use them on the few 40 degree plus days.

    In a submission to the Australian Energy Regulator, Origin Energy notes:

    There is little evidence in the Australia context of significant reductions in energy consumption resulting from the move to interval meters. It is uncertain whether the meters will lead to a sustained reduction in consumption and, if so, over what period.

    http://www.aer.gov.au/content/item.phtml?itemId=734573&nodeId=2bd0aa89ff1e590843e43b4c9bcd217e&fn=Origin%20Energy.pdf

    Contrary to the ZCA report, the (now suspended) Victorian smart meter rollout does not expect the meters to provide demand management in the early stages, but rather, the meters will assist customers to get real-time information, and allow retailers to implement differential pricing. For example a recent Essential Services Commission report notes:

    Customer bills are most impacted by the costs associated with growing network peak demands and generation, which suggests that it would be beneficial for customers to see and be charged directly for these distribution and generation costs.

    http://www.esc.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/02D438E3-0D6F-49AF-8C8A-AAB13BE439BF/0/DDPDraftDecisionSmartMetersRegulatoryReview20100721.pdf

    In summary, the report assumes a best-case, fast-track scenario for smart grids despite the available evidence suggesting a marginal role for the foreseeable future.

  368. Peter,

    I think your timeline for solar rollout is fair / optimistic.

    The other issues with that timeline are when Gemasolar 17MW is ironed out, expected as 2014 based on S&L 3 year post construction testing etc. Alcazar 50MW (Solar 50), is a total unknown at the moment, I haven;t looked very hard though. According to

    http://www.ntgr8.com/Utility-Solar-Thermal-Projects.html

    its “status” is 2011, whatever they mean by status. Alcazar does not appear on NREL’s list either. So until someone can find info on Solar 50 FOAK that is unknown. Would estimate 2014 earliest.

    Solar 100 Tonopah is estimated 2014 – still needs planning approval to start.
    Solar 150 RSEP Rice is estimated 2014 – still needs planning approval to start.

    I’ll be interested to see how long construction actually takes with those two, given how things have gone so far. 2.5 years is prob optimistic, but you never know.

    This would put ZCA stage 1 (2010 – 2015) pretty much out the game. Earliest optimism is they could start solar by 2014, using 17MW towers.

    More later

  369. Oh, should point out this in S & L 2003 page 3-6 ->

    “Solar 50 is the first commercial plant of sufficient size to allow a number of larger plants to be developed.”

    So in reality then Gemasolar 17MW is not ever going to be a commercial rollout. ZCA are also assuming 50MW as smallest module.

  370. Gram Palmer, I believe that air source heat pumps sold in the United States and Canada, are capable of operating in a much lower temperature than – 5 C, with -30 °C being quoted as the lowest practical figure. In areas where demand for summer air conditioning is in high demand, air source heat pumps make a great deal of sense. Winter demand for heating is balanced by summer demand for cooling. Although heat pumps will increase overall demand for electricity and hence required added electrical generation capacity, the net effect of a switch to heat pumps is a reduction in overall energy demand, and a reduction of carbon emissions.

    So why do Greens prefer natural gas heating? The answer is simple, the greater the demand for electricity, the greater the pressure to go nuclear. My own view is that the cost of Molten Salt Reactors can be reduced to the point that peak load nuclear will be cost effective, and thus the demand for AC and heating electricity can be meet by from nuclear generation sources. This would be unacceptable to anti-nuclear Greens.

  371. Charles

    Agree about heat pumps. There is a small market in Australia, mainly in cool regions without articulated gas, such as inland NSW, where the only options are bottled gas (very expensive and requires regular bottle refills) or wood (ok if you have access to cheap local wood). The use of oil filled or similar resistance heating appliances will send you broke. There are a small number of hydronic solar with bottled gas backup, but these will set you back $30K.

    I don’t agree that there is any hidden agenda with a preference for natural gas – given the option of coal fired electricity as the alternative, gas is the obvious choice.

  372. Try this gov submission by BZE & note the estimated CF figures for the to be built Alcazar 50MW tower :

    page 9 = 70%
    page 12 = ~80%

    http://media.beyondzeroemissions.org/Solar_Flagships_submission_31Jan10.pdf

    compare with 68.5% calculated from this press release November 17, 2009 ->

    http://www.solar-reserve.com/pressReleases/Alcazar-Cinco_Casas_Permitting_ENG.pdf

    Alcazar would be 50MW @ 300,000MWh = CF 68.5%

    Back to BZE’s gov sub on solar flagships->

    “The nature of progress in tower plants, however, is to build a larger plant than the last. For example, Abengoa built a 10MWe power tower, PS10, followed by a 20MWe tower, PS20. For this reason, we suggest that the definition of commercially proven projects be modified to add the words “or scalable”, so that it reads:

    Commercially proven projects will be taken to mean those projects that have been demonstrated at an operational level of at least 30MW for twelve months or with a replicable or scalable module below 30MW, with backing from financial and construction firms for scale-up plans.”

    This is a planning / fast track speedup that is being sought by BZE. This looks to me they want pre-Gemasolar to be proven commercial. Although still building with Solar 50’s, 100’s etc mainly. Also just because they obtain the planning speed up doesn’t mean a developer will build immediately. There is usually a 3 year time limit to begin. Extensions are also obtainable.

  373. The ZCA plan aims to reduce total energy demand and variability, using a smart grid to smooth electricity demand. Although specific parameters are not provided, the program appears to rely on demand management as a key plank in the program. For example:

    page 20

    The energy demand profile will be further smoothed using smart-grids in combination with an electric vehicle fleet and demand-negating, small scale PV.

    page 22

    Under the ZCA2020 Plan, improved insulation and the use of ‘smart meters’ assists in levelling short term spikes in electricity demand.

    page 93

    The ZCA2020 Plan combats this variation in demand both through system design and active load management, using Smart Grid technologies.

    There is substantial activity both in Australia and worldwide on researching and developing “smart grid” components. The future of smart grids is arousing a significant amount of interest and research funding, and offers some exciting possibilities, particular with remote appliance control and electric vehicle recharging. For example, the Federal Government has the “Smart Cities Smart Grid” program

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/programs-and-rebates/smartgrid.aspx

    and there are a number of initiatives including, for example, the development of Australian Standard AS4755.3.1 for smart meter interfaces.

    http://share.aemo.com.au/smartmetering/Document%20library/Work%20Stream%20documentation/BRWG/Meeting%2007%20-%2016-17%20Sep%2009/09%20BRWG%20Workshop%2007%20-%20NSMP%20and%20the%20AS4755%20Appliance%20Interface%20version%203%20-%2016-17%20Sep%202009.pdf

    However, smart grids are in an early stage of development, and while there may be some rewarding payoffs at some stage, future outcomes remain uncertain. The inertia inherent in energy systems, the existing stock of consumer appliances and large penetration of air conditioners, the requirement for evidenced based analysis of developments, and bureaucratic processes mean that smart grid technology is inevitably a long term venture. The report appears to accept the most optimistic potential outcomes of smart metering as an article of faith, and appears to assume fast-track implementation, although no detail is provided.

    One of the main planks of the report appears to be the ability to readily implement air conditioner demand management strategies, through smart metering, with, presumably, differential pricing. There is no a priori reason to believe that socially palatable differential pricing is going to drive substantial reductions in air conditioner demand on the hottest days. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that even householders that use their cooling systems sparingly will nonetheless use them on the few 40 degree plus days.

    In a submission to the Australian Energy Regulator, Origin Energy notes

    “There is little evidence in the Australia context of significant reductions in energy consumption resulting from the move to interval meters. It is uncertain whether the meters will lead to a sustained reduction in consumption and, if so, over what period.”

    http://www.aer.gov.au/content/item.phtml?itemId=734573&nodeId=2bd0aa89ff1e590843e43b4c9bcd217e&fn=Origin%20Energy.pdf

    Contrary to the ZCA report, the (now suspended) Victorian smart meter rollout does not expect the meters to provide demand management in the early stages, but rather, the meters will assist customers to get real-time information, and allow retailers to implement differential pricing. For example a recent Essential Services Commission report notes

    “Customer bills are most impacted by the costs associated with growing network peak demands and generation, which suggests that it would be beneficial for customers to see and be charged directly for these distribution and generation costs.”

    http://www.esc.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/02D438E3-0D6F-49AF-8C8A-AAB13BE439BF/0/DDPDraftDecisionSmartMetersRegulatoryReview20100721.pdf

    In summary, the report assumes a best-case scenario for smart grids despite the available evidence suggesting a marginal role for the foreseeable future.

  374. Two of the key platforms of the ‘smart grid’ are smart meters and electric cars. Both are now found wanting. I suspect the real intent behind smart meters is getting people used to paying the same power bill for 20% fewer kwh i.e. pay the same get less. Now some are querying whether EVs and PHEVs will be affordable, sufficiently versatile and able to save much oil.

    Way upthread it was pointed out ZCA2020 implies a 70% energy use cut across all sectors. The ‘smart grid’ won’t achieve that on current evidence. The system needs as much grunt as it has now, only with lower emissions.

  375. Mark,

    Didn’t spot that.

    Good sanity check on that RSEP CF then, thanks.

    Any other info on RSEP would be very useful e.g. cost, storage time (I dont think it has much, probably just enough for intermittent cloud cover).

  376. John Newlands,
    Now some are querying whether EVs and PHEVs will be affordable, sufficiently versatile and able to save much oil.

    If the same assumption re : affordable, were to be used for SUV’s we would also conclude that only a small portion of the vehicles would be SUVs because of the high price.
    Whats being ignored is (1) many consumers only buy second and vehicles(2) oil prices are going to rise very dramatically.
    What is the versatile problem with a PHEV?
    Oil savings would range from 50% (never plug in) to >90% ( recharge every night and top up at work, shopping centers etc).
    Way upthread it was pointed out ZCA2020 implies a 70% energy use cut across all sectors. The ‘smart grid’ won’t achieve that on current evidence
    A smart grid will never save electricity, just time shift the load. The saving in energy is due to changing from FF( 15-50% efficiency) to electricity (80-300% efficiency in moving vehicles or low grade heat) on a MJ basis. So a PHEV running on electricity uses 0.2-0.4kWh/km(0.72-1.4MJ/km) compared to a ICE vehicle( 10-14L/100km=0.1-.14L/km or 14-20MJ/km, ) This gives a saving of >90% for the same work. Similarly replacing NG heat with heat pumps saves about 75% in energy use( on a MJ basis). Any improvements in insulation lighting etc would add to those savings.
    Similar savings would occur if FF is replaced by nuclear based on MWe.

  377. If there was an industrial scale electrical load that could be switched on or off without causing problems, then this could help in demand matching.

    I wonder if desalination is such a task – there is always a big buffer of fresh water (in terms of hours of supply) between the desalination plant and the consumer’s tap; the plant are distributed around the country, focused around urban centres; and they are controlled by government agencies.

    http://www.watercorporation.com.au/_files/Desalination_windpower.pdf – Water Corp WA:
    “To produce the 45 gigalitres of water each year that the desalination plant is designed for, the power requirement will be 24 megawatts. This represents 185 gigawatt hours of energy per year …” [88% load factor]

    That doesn’t sound like much in terms of the total generating capacity, but if it is 100% dispatchable then it must help.

  378. Neil with the SUV families can travel interstate, tow a trailer, go bush and take kids to soccer. Battlers can afford such vehicles 2nd hand. Efficiency aside the PHEV all-electric range won’t suit many eg the fringe suburb commuter with a night shift job in the city. I live 65km out of Hobart but I’m driving on modified chip oil so I hope to be OK. I’d say the take-up of EVs is unpredictable as this stage. You’d think Holden or Ford would market the NGVs their affiliates sell overseas.

    ZCA want Australia to power down from 3900 PJ all up to 1100 PJ a year. That’s cutting demand, not shifting it.

  379. Dave Kimble

    Industrial scale load switching already occurs. One of the reasons the Portland smelter was able to negotiate such a good deal was an agreement to power down under certain predicted peak demand conditions. This is not a minute by minute proposition however, but a “whole day” exercise (I forget the specific details)

    There are many barriers to demand management – would you want to power down your factory so that you can reduce your electricity bill? Here’s are good starting point:

    http://www.energyaustralia.com.au/Common/Network-Supply-and-Services/Demand-Management/Related-projects/Demand-Management-and-Planning-Project.aspx

  380. I understand supply interrupt clauses are quite severe for aluminium smelting as Wikipedia points out Power must be constantly available, since the pots have to be repaired at significant cost if the liquid metal solidifies. That is the electricity supplier may face penalties if it curtails supply beyond a few hours per year. That’s for molten salt refining but aqueous solutions are less vulnerable eg zinc plate electrolysis.

    I believe both types of electro refiners, molten salt and aqueous, pay just a fraction of what households pay, perhaps 2-4c per kwh. The price differential could be seen as a blatant and unmerited subsidy. Moreover they operate at steady output around the clock. ZCA would have us believe that once fossil energy has built all the wind towers, mirrors and boilers then these sources will supply all the energy needed for their replacement. Presumably cement will no longer be made with coal or gas. I have trouble envisaging an aluminium smelter drawing 200 MWe at 2 a.m. on a calm night being powered by wind and solar.

  381. The RSEP project turns out to have a capacity factor of .34, thus it would appear to have no more than 4 hours storage. The average annual output is will be 6% lower than that of the Tonopah Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, despite a nominal output rating that is 50% higher. Both projects are projected to have similar costs, so the levelized cost of electricity from the RSEP project will be similar to that of electricity from the Crescent Dunes project, ie., over $0.40 per kWh.

  382. Mark,

    Thanks, that Rice Solar site displays a key point under RSEP project location ->

    ———

    Previously disturbed site – former Rice Army Airfield and private airfield, which has been abandoned since 1958

    Remote location – 10-mile new transmission line will interconnect with Western’s existing transmission system

    Not located in any Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) or critical habitat areas for listed species

    Central receiver tower is located one mile from State Route 62

    ———-

    This is a classic problem with ZCA report, they are saying these aren’t pilot plants when they clearly are! You dont stick the Solar 150 pilot plant somewhere too remote, you need decent access. That is why it will ONLY cost US$750-850 million (capital) plus US$5-7 million annually.

    Another KEY point, notice construction time is estimated as 30 months (2.5 years). It will be interesting to see what that figure is when its finally online. Pretty handy having an abandoned airfield area too…

    The lack of storage info given on the site you linked to is also a bit shoddy.

    Don’t forget the CEC planning site is where to get the real info for California projects (well any planning dept site in fact in the county or state where the plant is located).

    All California solar ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/siting/solar/index.html

    RSEP ->
    Executive summary of the RSEP solar power tower project at CEC ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ricesolar/documents/applicant/afc/Volume_1/RSEP_0%200_Executive_Summary.pdf

    Keep your eye out on those CEC web pages, all the links to the planning docs for whatever project you have selected are in the left vertical frame column.

    Planning docs are a long haul. the Environmental Impact Assess / Statements are usually the key docs to get stuck into. For each planning app there are thousands of pages, most of which is usually utter garbage anyway / copy & paste from previous apps then change the details. I kid you not I have seen the names of previous project titles in wind farm planning docs, some of these environmental assessment firms dont have a very high quality control level.

    Detailed(ish) planning docs for RSEP are in these two folders ->

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ricesolar/documents/applicant/afc/

    Public exhibition period here in NSW is still under fast track, so we only get 30 days to :

    a) find out its on exhibition if the developer “forgets” to tell you or tells you late
    b) do the research / find & pay an expert or experts
    c) write up a submission
    d) attempt to continue living your normal day to life at the same time, so you really have only the odd night a week and maybe a day at the weekend, to do the above, over 4 weeks! maybe 8 weeks if the developer feels generous (have a guess ? :)

    Charles,

    Good comment about the average annual output & costs.

  383. meant to add ->

    30 days to research the EA / EIS and comment is peanuts compared to the post approval construction requirement. The approvals in NSW for Silverton wind farm for example gave the developer 5 years before they have to break ground. For Capital WF it was 3 years.

  384. Re: portland Smelter

    Hal Turton from the Australia Institute did a good report on the Australian smelter industry in 2002:

    https://www.tai.org.au/documents/dp_fulltext/DP44.pdf

    My understanding of the cost structure is that it came about because of the oversupply after the construction of Loy Lang B, which left the SECV in debt. Alcoa negotiated a price based on the marginal cost of electricity (very low in the case of brown coal) and varied according to the world price of aluminium. I always believe these things give cause for reflection – most of us thought that bringing this type of heavy industry to Victoria was a great idea at the time, just as many think it would be a great idea to end the subsidies now – what will we think in another 10 years?

  385. A recent document by Save the River, which is relevant regarding environmental issues of large scale wind deployment of the kind suggested by ZCA.

    Particularly as I have stated earlier that there is no acknowledgement or assessment at all in the ZCA report of the potential negative environmental impacts of their large scale wind rollout.

    —-

    Save The River Position on Industrial Wind Development within the St. Lawrence River Valley

    Summary:
    “The special nature of the place that we inhabit, including the importance of the habitat and flyway, when taken with the scale of the wind energy projects proposed, the lack of a process to assess cumulative review, and the initial indications of substantial impacts to birds and bats, all lead us to conclude that wind projects proposed for our area should not proceed further until the Wolfe Island Wind post-construction wildlife impact study is completed and a cumulative wildlife impact assessment involving the US and Canadian governments has occurred.”

    + also note ->

    “To address these concerns, Save The River supports the following:

    1. A three-year moratorium on wind project development in municipalities bordering the Upper St. Lawrence River, in the US and Canada.

    2. A cumulative assessment of bird and bat mortality as well as other environmental impacts, for the upper St. Lawrence River valley, coordinated by agencies in the US and Canada, considering two regional scenarios, one for 500 wind turbines and the other for 1,000 wind turbines.”

    —-

    http://www.windaction.org/documents/28625

    http://blog.savetheriver.org/?p=1473

  386. John Newlands
    Neil with the SUV families can travel interstate, tow a trailer, go bush and take kids to soccer. Battlers can afford such vehicles 2nd hand.
    Most families have 2 vehicles, and there is no reason why a PHEV’s cannot go interstate and take kids to soccer. Not sure how many SUV’s ever go bush at present(definitely no SUV drivers I know).
    Battlers will be able to afford PHEV’s second hand just like they can buy a Prius second hand or a Jazz or Mazda 2, cars that use one third two one half as much fuel as most SUVs. I mean be realistic, families in the 1950’s and 1960’s were larger and didn’t have SUVs, as kids we walked to sports, its a bit like people now-days going to gym and waiting for a lift so they don’t have to walk up 2 floors!
    In any case there will not be enough oil for everyone to drive ICE powered SUV’s so it will be PHEV or EV or walk and public transport.

    Efficiency aside the PHEV all-electric range won’t suit many eg the fringe suburb commuter with a night shift job in the city. I live 65km out of Hobart but I’m driving on modified chip oil so I hope to be OK. I’d say the take-up of EVs is unpredictable as this stage.
    PHEV’s are ideal for fringe suburb commuters, they can save 65km -130km( depending upon work charging) of ICE driving every day. The 10km/day commuter will only save 10km of ICE travel.
    Of course EV uptake is unpredictable, we don’t know if petrol is going to be $1.50/l or $15/l in 10 or 20 years. The critical issue is to have manufacturing capacity in place to respond to demand if be have $15/l petrol.

    ZCA want Australia to power down from 3900 PJ all up to 1100 PJ a year. That’s cutting demand, not shifting it.
    Thats cutting use of PJ present in FF, in fact electricity consumption is projected to increase by 50%, but because 98% of each kWh( 3.4MJ) is generated by renewable energy, we are saving about 10MJ of FF energy that is presently used to generate one kWh and replacing 35MJ /l of petrol with 2kWh( 7.2MJ) of electricity. The ZCA also projects less VMT and better insulation but the big savings are replacing FF (PJ’s) with 35% as many electric (PJ’s) and doing the same work.

  387. Neil I admit there is a conundrum over high fuel prices; maybe the PHEV will be the least-worst alternative. However there are some major reasons why potential buyers will resist them
    1) high sticker price over $40k
    2) cost of fast chargers at home
    3) lack of workplace charging
    4) lack of zip in range extension mode.
    Therefore I think ZCA are getting way ahead of themselves assuming there will be a wholesale rush to electric private transport. Strangely I agree that we shouldn’t burn too much gas in power stations as CNG looks like the logical replacement for diesel. When petrol gets over say $3/L I think there will be an economic slowdown that will make EVs less affordable. More subsidies perhaps.

    I plead guilty to bush bashing my excuse being the fuel is made from waste veg oil. I’m working on a Facebook page (not yet uploaded) on some old overgrown platinum diggings nearby. I hope to touch on species extinction (thylacine) and silicate weathering.

  388. John,

    “Strangely I agree that we shouldn’t burn too much gas in power stations…”

    Funnily enough implementation of CST in the form of gas / solar hybrid & Integrated Solar Combined Cycle System (ISCCS) requires doing exactly just that.

    Further funnily enough, this is extensively discussed in Sargent & Lundy 2003, which is ZCA’s favourite reference of all time. The bible… eeer except the bit about fossil fuels in Section 2.3, a couple of short excerpts ->

    “Many solar-fossil hybrid options are possible with natural gas combined-cycle and coal-fired or oil-fired Rankine plants, and may accelerate near-term deployment of projects due to improved economics and reduced overall project risk. One opportunity for hybrid integration is with a power tower hybridized with a combined-cycle plant. In this power boost hybrid plant, a solar-only plant has, in effect, been “piggybacked” on top of a base-loaded fossil-fueled plant. ”

    “When hybridizing a solar power tower with a base-load fossil-fired plant, solar contributes about 25% of the peak power output from the plant and between 10% and 25% of the annual electricity. (The higher annual solar fraction can be achieved with 13 hours of thermal storage and the lower solar fraction with just a few hours of storage.)”

    “The Integrated Solar Combined Cycle System (ISCCS) was initially proposed as a way of integrating a parabolic trough solar plant with modern combined-cycle power plants. The approach reduces the effective cost of the conventional power plant equipment, leveraging O&M and project development costs over a much larger plant and potentially increasing the solar-to-electric conversion efficiency. The initial concept was simply to increase the size of the steam turbine, use solar energy to generate steam, and use the waste heat from the gas turbine to preheat and superheat the steam. The general concept called for doubling the size of the steam turbine
    in the bottoming cycle. The ISCCS plant would operate at the combined-cycle output during non-solar periods, and then output would increase by up to one third when solar energy was available (referred to as the solar increment). However if the combined-cycle plant is operated in a baseload operating profile, the annual solar fraction (percent of electric generation from solar) will only be about 10%. In addition, detailed design integration issues must be considered to make sure the solar integration does not have a significant impact on the combined-cycle fossil operation. A number of recent studies have looked at the best approaches for this integration. ISCCS plants are being considered for all four of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) grant
    projects (India, Egypt, Morocco, and Mexico).”

    ——

    Take special note of the power tower storage time, 13h, which I think is looking to be the more financially preferred number of hours for storage.

    Also take note that this solar thermal tower & trough hybridisation / ISCCS will be vital for keeping costs down, but again ZCA report deems this not worthy of a mention. One wonders how all these plants are going to be rolled out without gas.

    And also I wonder how this removal of gas from the ZCA solar thermal equation may interact with cost calculations compared to S&L 2003 figures. As cost is not my area, someone else should look at that.

    However, ZCA report & BZE have an amazing ability to ignore these basic gas/solar facts, whether in the brief discussion(?) as we found out on Climate Spectator or in their report.

    This is possibly why they do not want to discuss the transition in detail, because as S&L 2003 point out, hybrid & ISCCS is really the initial route to getting CSP rolled out. Just look at those CST plants doing this already as I mentioned up thread.

    Perhaps then, BZE didn’t closely read the comments by Andrew Dyer, Director, BrightSource Energy Australia that they themselves have quoted at the front of their ZCA report. 3rd page at front of the pdf ->

    “With far greater efficiencies, higher capacity factors, lower capital costs and the ability to operate the plant in hybrid mode and/or with storage, the BrightSource Luz Power Tower is the proven technology of today and well into the future for delivering firm, renewable power”

    Notice also the careful none use of the word “commercial” before the word “proven”.

    Also notice at the beginning of Dyer’s comments in the same quote in ZCA report he refers to SEGS ->

    “At BrightSource’s predecessor, Luz, they designed, developed, built and operated the nine SEGS parabolic trough plants in California that still operate today. Built in the 1980’s, these plants were the best that could be built with the available technology at the time and certainly proved beyond any doubt that one could capture the sun’s energy and convert it into steam for large scale electricity generation on a scale never before contemplated.”

    Eeer, ahem, etc… SEGS plant is a classic example of solar combined with gas… i.e. none standalone, funny (not) again the none-mentioning of this crucial piece of info.

    Take a look at the NREL pages for SEGS systems which are between 14MW to 80MW ->

    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/by_project.cfm

    e.g. SEGS IX (the last one they made) :

    Power Block
    Turbine Capacity (Gross): 89.0 MW
    Turbine Capacity (Net): 80.0 MW
    Output Type: MHI regenerative steam turbine, solar preheat and steam generation, natural-gas-fired superheater
    Power Cycle Pressure: 40.0 bar
    Turbine Efficiency: 37.6% @ full load
    Fossil Backup Type: Natural gas

    **Even Wikipedia know they run on gas too ->

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Energy_Generating_Systems

  389. John N,

    Only $98million for 44MW, I wonder what Kogan Creek will do for storage when ZCA ban fossil fuels next year.

    Kogan Creek cola fired power station is 750MW, I’d hardly call 44MW(nameplate!) a boost. S & L 2003 rightly describe this as ->

    “…“piggybacked” on top of a base-loaded fossil-fueled plant. ”

    i.e. it provides a tiny wafer thin feel good green veneer, but not much else.

    So after the ZCA fossil fuel removal, Kogan Creek will need to do a fair bit of solar boosting…

    ———————————–

    But regarding gas / solar that leaves a few questions hanging in the air about ZCA report ->

    Are any of the ZCA assumptions for solar based on figures that were originally calculated with gas in the mix?

    If so, given that there is absolutely no mention of solar / gas in the ZCA report, was gas removed from the ZCA equation and how?

    ———————————–

    Oh and before I forget regarding the solar trough SEGS that is proudly mentioned by Dyer in the start of ZCA report.

    Well SEGS II had a bit of bother back in 99. “Since the accident” it still uses gas I assume. I did read somewhere that they never bothered replacing the storage, but I can’t rem the source offhand. ->

    Wikipedia :
    In February 1999, a 900,000-US-gallon (3,400 m3) therminol storage tank exploded at the SEGS II (Daggett) solar power plant, sending flames and smoke into the sky. Authorities were trying to keep flames away from two adjacent containers that held sulfuric acid and caustic soda. The immediate area of 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) was evacuated.[9]

    & the ref [9] points to this news story

    –>

    [9] http://articles.latimes.com/1999/feb/27/news/mn-12205 ->

    Storage Tank at Solar Power Plant in Desert Explodes; Immediate Area Is Evacuated –

    “DAGGETT, Calif. — A storage tank exploded at a solar power plant Friday, sending flames and billows of smoke into the sky for hours and forcing authorities to evacuate the immediate area.

    The fire, which broke out about 6 p.m., was still burning four hours later at the SEGS II power plant near Interstate 40 about seven miles east of Barstow, said San Bernardino County Fire Battalion Chief David McLees.

    Firefighters “tried to put water on it and said it was like putting out a house fire with a garden hose,” he said.

    The 900,000-gallon tank was holding a heat-transfer fluid called therminol, McLees said. Therminol is a hydraulic fluid that is heated to about 850 degrees and run through pipes to solar panels to help generate electricity, McLees said.

    The fluid can be mildly toxic. Authorities were also trying to keep flames from leaping to two adjacent containers that held sulfuric acid and caustic soda, both toxic substances, he said.

    An unspecified number of employees at the plant were evacuated. All known employees were accounted for, he said.

    The cause of the blast was not known, McLees said.

    Police and fire officials evacuated a half-square-mile area around the facility, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Sue Santana.”

  390. Renewable Energy: Avoiding a National Security “Train Wreck”

    Lenny Siegel
    Center for Public Environmental Oversight
    July, 2008

    http://www.cpeo.org/pubs/Renewables.pdf

    An excerpt ->

    “To learn to what degree renewable energy generation is compatible with desert
    habitat and military operations, in April 2008 I joined a tour of the Solar Energy
    Generating Systems (units III-VII) facility in Kramer Junction, California. ”

    This is actually worth a look at because it gives you an idea geographically of how close all those solar plants in the Mojave desert are to both population areas, wildlife areas and military bases. There are some good map views also in the doc.

  391. An Evaluation of Molten-Salt Power Towers Including Results of the Solar Two Project

    Hugh E. Reilly and Gregory J. Kolb
    Solar Thermal Technology Department
    Sandia National Laboratories
    P.O. Box 5800
    Albuquerque, NM 87185-0703

    SAND2001-3674

    2001 Nov 01

    ———

    Pretty good report on the tech, also discusses the next one which will be Solar Tres / Gemasolar in Spain estimated 2011. (which will also have 15% nat gas)

    “This report utilizes the results of the Solar Two project, as well as continuing technology development, to update the technical and economic status of molten-salt power towers. The report starts with an overview of power tower technology, including the progression from Solar One to the Solar Two project. This discussion is followed by a review of the Solar Two project–what was planned, what actually occurred, what was learned, and what was accomplished. The third section presents preliminary information regarding the likely configuration of the next molten-salt power tower plant. This section draws on Solar Two experience as well as results of continuing power tower development efforts conducted jointly by industry and Sandia National Laboratories. The fourth section details the expected performance and cost goals for the first commercial molten-salt power tower plant and includes a comparison of the commercial performance goals to the actual performance at Solar One and Solar Two. The final section summarizes the successes of Solar Two and the current technology development activities. The data collected from the Solar Two project suggest that the electricity cost goals established for power towers are reasonable and can be achieved with some simple design improvements.”

    A great quote ->

    “Dispatchability using storage was successfully demonstrated during the Solar Two project. Operation into the evening hours was routinely done, and on one occasion, the plant ran 24 hrs/day for nearly one week.”

    Also has a good description of “Solar Two during the operational phase from February 1998 until plant shutdown in April 1999.”

    On operational phase, note that planned operation start was Jan 96 & actual start was Feb 98.

    ***Power production started March 98 until shutdown April 99.

    See Table 2.3 page 2-7.

    The report is available here ->

    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/product.biblio.jsp?query_id=2&page=0&osti_id=791898

  392. Neil Howes,

    What do you think of the build rate for CST and wind power proposed in the ZCA2020 plan?

    The reason I asked is because I recall you pointing out some time ago, following the posting of the “Emissions Cuts Realities” paper, that Australia could not build nuclear at the rate assumed in the paper (0.5GW per 2020 to 2025, 1GW per year to 2030, 1.5GW per year to 2035 then 2GW per year thereafter). You said that to do so would require a bigger effort than the NW Shelf and Australia could not affford it, or words to that effect.

    However, the ZCA2020 plan is calling for 6 to 7GW per year of CST from 2015 to 2020. CST requres about 10 times as much material as nuclear per GW so the ZCA plan is calling for the equivalent in materials (and therefore workforce) of about 60 to 70 1GW nuclear power stations per year.

    What do you think of this? Have you looked critically at the ZCA2020 plan?

  393. Electric Cars

    Electric cars have held allure since before Thomas Edison promoted the electric car in the early part of the twentieth century, utilizing the nickel-iron battery, competing with steam powered and internal combustion engines. The conjunction of climate change, predictions of peak oil, and improving battery technology has spurred renewed interest in electric vehicles, and the ZCA plan takes this interest to its (assumed) logical conclusion stating:

    page 13

    Under the Plan, oil and LPG production ceases and the inefficient internal combustion engine is replaced with a combination of electrified heavy and light rail, electric vehicles, and some range-extending biofueled hybrid- electric vehicles.

    and achieving this through:

    page 17

    The plan proposes a large scale upgrade of public transport services, supplemented with a smaller-than- current private vehicle fleet, consisting of electric, battery swap and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Where plug-in hybrid vehicles exist in the fleet, the plan proposes that they use green biofuels instead of petrol or diesel fuel. However, the plan recommends a focus on development and rollout of zero-emission electric vehicles, rather than that of low emission fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. Additional energy savings can be accessed by reducing average distances travelled through better urban planning and localised access to services. A renewed emphasis on cycling infrastructure will encourage the use of bicycles in urban areas.
    The modal shift from private passenger vehicles to shared electric rail vehicles has the capacity to reduce the private car fleet by around 50%. The average car will travel 8000km p.a. instead of the 15,000km travelled today. ZCA2020 aims for Australia to have six million pure electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery swap electric vehicles by 2020.

    and

    page 17

    The introduction of 6 million new vehicles in 10 years may seem a challenge, but Australians currently purchases around 1 million new vehicles every year. Demand for new vehicles is therefore strong enough to drive the introduction of appropriately-priced zero emission vehicles. The Australian fleet currently numbers some 12 million private vehicles. The Plan does not attempt to replace all 12 million vehicles, as it anticipates vast improvements to public transport, higher fuel prices, and hence reduced demand for private vehicles.

    It is difficult to comprehensively critique the EV proposal because of a complete absence of detail. It is not clear whether the proposal is included in the plan as a serious proposition, or a thought experiment in what could be technically possible if Australians were to theoretically install a benevolent dictator or wise king. There is a fundamental tension between, on the one hand, considering the proposal as a legitimate starting point for a discussion about future possibilities, and on the other hand, the serious implementation of the plan, given the assumed reduction in oil consumption (page 13).

    Possibly the most authoritative commentary on the future of EV’s is laid out in the International Energy Agency’s, Technology Roadmap: Electric and Plug-in Electric Vehicles (2009). The road-map suggests the possibility of global sales of

    0.7 million PHEV and 0.5 million EV in 2015 and;
    4.7 million PHEV and 2.5 million EV in 2020, noting

    This is an ambitious but plausible scenario that assumes strong policies and clear policy frameworks, including provision of adequate infrastructure and incentives.

    and further noting

    This scenario achieves 50 000 units of production per model for both EVs and PHEVs by 2015, and 100 000 by 2020. This rate of increase in production will be extremely challenging over the short time frame considered (about ten years).

    http://www.iea.org/Papers/2009/EV_PHEV_Roadmap.pdf

    But, the ZCA plan states:

    page 17

    At the beginning of World War II, Holden was transformed from a struggling automotive manufacturer to a producer of high volumes of cars, aircraft, field guns and marine engines. Increased production to 900,000 vehicles per annum across the three existent auto plants is certainly achievable in the twenty-first century, and would allow the production of six million plug-in electric vehicles by 2020.

    It is hard to reconcile these competing claims, particular given that Australia represents 2% of the global car market, and further, the ZCA plan does not make recommendations as to what type of regulation or legislative process would be used to implement the industry and transport policy. A myriad of questions are not addressed such as; what do the other 37 makes of cars, selling more than 200 models in Australia do, who will decide which models to produce, how will the political ramifications of denying consumers the right to purchase cheaper petrol or diesel cars of their choice be handled, what should happen to the existing fleet of cars, how will retraining of the motor mechanic workforce be handled, will compensation be provided?

    Assuming that the EV proposal is plausible, the ZCA plan assumes a dramatic ramp-up in public transport, resulting in a 75% reduction in total passenger vehicle kilometres. Infrastructure Australia produced a recent report detailing which public transport projects it considered high-priority, noting

    Australia relies heavily on the productivity of its cities for national prosperity. The majority of our population and businesses are located in urban areas, and our cities are hubs of economic activity that link Australia to the global economy. The rapid growth and development in these hubs has imposed challenges relating to patterns of growth, water supply, urban congestion, patterns of advantage and disadvantage, climate change and adaptation, and pressures on public finance. Australia’s transport systems are especially struggling in the face of these challenges with public transport growing rapidly in recent years and reaching capacity limits in most major cities.

    http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/files/National_Infrastructure_Priorities.pdf

    To address the most the most immediate, Infrastructure Australia produced a list of 11 public transport projects, totalling $38B. The implementation of these projects would allow, broadly, Australia to maintain business-as-usual in the context of increased economic activity and population increase. It is difficult to estimate the cost of building public transport infrastructure, combined with improved town planning, that would allow a 75% reduction in total vehicle kilometres, and the absence of detail in the ZCA plan does allow allow a critique of the proposal. Indeed, such a dramatic reduction in the context of increasing vehicle usage seems implausible at face value and no evidence is provided to support the contention that such a dramatic shift has ever been achieved in a prosperous, functional, democracy at any time.

    In summary, a considered debate might well conclude that carbon pricing, corporate average fuel economy standards, research and development funding, industry tax concessions, among other incentives, might assist Australia’s transition from oil dependence, and indeed, Australian policy development has lagged global developments. However the ZCA proposals appear to have emerged more as a thought bubble than a realistic appraisal of achievable outcomes, and perversely, retards genuine debate in making that transition a reality.

  394. I note Crikey links to an article arguing the case for subsidising electric cars, the grounds being they could be the Next Big Thing. However subsidies for EVs pose the same problem as rebates for solar panels; why should the poor help pay for a middle class fashion statement?

    An equal case could be made for petrol/CNG dual fuel vehicles of which several models exist. If the service station on the highway doesn’t have a CNG bowser top up with expensive petrol until you find somewhere else. Users of PHEVs like the GM Volt are told to make sure the battery is topped up before long hill climbs as the 3 cylinder engine struggles with a heavy car. Thus even short distance commuters on Adelaide’s Hills Freeway or Hobart’s Southern Outlet might not suit PHEVs.

    Note Australia uses about a million barrels of oil a day, increasingly imported. To replace that as a fuel and plastics feedstock could take 50 Mt of gas a year. Not a peep out of the Federal govt on how to replace oil. Quick approvals however if anybody wants to export gas or burn it in power stations.

  395. Peter Lang,
    I think the ZCA2020 plan for building 42GW of CSP by 2020 is totally unrealsitic, and probably only need 21GW of CSP with balance wind.
    I recall from memory that Canada built about 1GW per year of nuclear after a time lag. We have to consider how many reactors could be under construction in Australia with limited work-force, evern if many modules are imported as in done with CNG.
    Wind instillation is starting from 0.5GW/year base, and many components are imported. If instillation continues to double every 3 years could have 70GW by 2030 built in higher capacity factor regions.
    Anyway building nuclear, solar and wind at same time would seem a better option and use of various skilled work-forces and will get us to phasing out all coal faster than any one technology. Keepign present NG fired power would be a better option than new biomass.

  396. John Newlands
    However there are some major reasons why potential buyers will resist them
    1) high sticker price over $40k

    This hasnt stopped SUV’s being sold
    2) cost of fast chargers at home
    Not relevant in Australia, standard outlets 10Ax 220v is going to fully re-charge in 4 hrs, using on-board charger.

    3) lack of workplace charging
    most people work for >4h so standard outlets would be OK, many people would not need to top up, or only need 1-2 h charging. Replacing incandescent bulbs with higher efficiency fluro should free up capacity.

    4) lack of zip in range extension mode.
    Same zip what ever mode, since electric motor always powers the vehicle.

  397. This is an interesting article + couple of snippets, and video of bat & wind turbine interaction :

    http://pixelspring.com/synapse/?p=304

    Moreover, organisms that use the aerosphere are influenced by an increasing number of anthropogenic factors such as skyscrapers, air pollution, aircraft, radio and television towers, lighted towns and cities, and more recently from the proliferation of communication towers and wind turbines that now dot the Earth’s landscape. Human alteration of landscapes by forest fragmentation, intensive agriculture, and urbanization and assorted industrial activities are all rapidly and irreversibly transforming the quantity and quality of available habitats that airborne organisms rely upon for navigational cues, sources of food, water, nesting and roosting habitats: conditions that in turn are influencing the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the assemblages of organisms therein. Climate change and its expected increase in global temperatures, altered circulation of air masses, and its effects on local, regional, and weather patterns have had and continue to exert profound influences on the dispersal, foraging and migratory behavior of insects, birds and bats. Ultimately, understanding ecosystem services provided by arthropods, birds, and bats that use the aerosphere will be important for maintaining biodiversity, human health, and ecosystem health of planet Earth.

    The Effect of Wind Energy Development on Bats

    “While this may seem like a step in the right direction, there are environmental consequences. Bats, which play an enormous and often underappreciated role in our ecosystems, are being killed by wind turbines in alarming numbers. Researchers predict that up to 111,000 bats will die due to wind turbines in 2020 in just the Mid-Atlantic Highlands region of the US.2 These deaths would not only pose an ecological problem, but would also prove to be an economic loss. In light of the economic and ecological value of bats and the growing popularity of wind energy, identifying ways to minimize bat fatalities on wind farms is essential.”

    “Farmers rely on these bats to help increase crop yields. Researchers in Texas estimated the economic value of the pest-control service that bats provide to these farmers. According to their study, a lactating female bat can consume up to two-thirds of her body weight in insects in a single night.3 Considering that more than 100 million Brazilian free-tailed bats forage every night in Texas, the implications are enormous. Bats provide an economic service to farmers in two ways: first, they increase crop yield by reducing the number of pests, and second, they decrease the number of pesticide applications needed. Without these services, Texan farmers in the eight-county Winter Garden area would lose 13.5% of their annual income from the lost cotton production (worth an estimated $5.5 million/year).4 Moreover, pesticide use not only costs money, but also has its own environmental impacts. Increased crop pests make the possibility of organic farming less attainable. This analysis only accounts for the losses to part of Texas. On a national level, the economic losses due to decreases in bat populations would be devastating.”

    “In a major Federal court decision in December 2009, a judge in Maryland ruled to stop the expansion of a $300 million wind farm on the basis that it would kill endangered Indiana bats.10 This ruling would require the wind energy company to obtain a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service before constructing additional turbines. The permit would restrict the operation of wind turbines during peak periods of migration. Rulings like this serve as a reminder that renewable energy is not always synonymous with environmental sustainability.”

    ——-

    + also Aeroecology research on this issue snippets :

    http://www.bu.edu/cecb/bats/aeroecology/

    “The aerosphere represents one of three major components of the biosphere. From ecological and evolutionary perspectives it is one of the least understood substrata of the troposphere with respect to how organisms interact with and are influenced by this highly variable, fluid environment. ”

    “Moreover, organisms that use the aerosphere are influenced by an increasing number of anthropogenic factors such as skyscrapers, air pollution, aircraft, radio and television towers, lighted towns and cities, and more recently from the proliferation of communication towers and wind turbines that now dot the Earth’s landscape. Human alteration of landscapes by forest fragmentation, intensive agriculture, and urbanization and assorted industrial activities are all rapidly and irreversibly transforming the quantity and quality of available habitats that airborne organisms rely upon for navigational cues, sources of food, water, nesting and roosting habitats: conditions that in turn are influencing the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the assemblages of organisms therein. Climate change and its expected increase in global temperatures, altered circulation of air masses, and its effects on local, regional, and weather patterns have had and continue to exert profound influences on the dispersal, foraging and migratory behavior of insects, birds and bats. Ultimately, understanding ecosystem services provided by arthropods, birds, and bats that use the aerosphere will be important for maintaining biodiversity, human health, and ecosystem health of planet Earth.”

  398. Neil – hill climbing in the Chevrolet Volt is discussed here. Next they should cross the entire Rockies on one charge. I would like to see a PHEV travel some mountainous commutes like Adelaide-Mt Barker or Hobart-Huonville and back, assuming no outdoor charging points were available.

    Graham – the fact that our politicians last seriously thought about Peak Oil in 2004 is not reassuring.

  399. Neil
    10A x 220V x 4 hours = 8.8 KW.h
    less the energy lost in charging and discharging.
    The Miev is only small and its battery is 16 KW.h http://www.mitsubishi-cars.co.uk/imiev/electric-vehicle-centre/technical-spec.aspx

    If electric cars were to catch on, the load on the street-level/sub-station grid infrastructure will be severely overloaded unless smart meters are used, and who wants to wait for the meter to say you can charge now and start driving in 8 hours’ time ?

    Changing from incandescent to compact fluoro would save you (60 – 11) = 49 W.h per standard bulb per hour, so you would need to be burning 45 bulbs for 4 hours/day/car for that to work out.

    No doubt knowing the real figures wouldn’t actually stop the wasteful Australian car driver from buying an EV, but we are up against limits here and governments have to “keep the lights on”, and the air-con, and the cars. They will end up not retiring the coal-fired power stations because they can’t let people sit in the dark.