Just as one of the biggest mining corporations canes our state government for not entertaining the possibility of nuclear power (vested interests?), we see this announcement: Japanese breakthrough will make wind power cheaper than nuclear | MNN – Mother Nature Network.
Renewable energy becomes more viable and more accessible as each day passes.
One thought on “Riding the winds of change”
Regarding – http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/blogs/japanese-breakthrough-will-make-wind-power-cheaper-than-nuclea
Japanese breakthrough will make wind power cheaper than nuclear
A surprising aerodynamic innovation in wind turbine design called the ‘wind lens’ could triple the output of a typical wind turbine, making it less costly than nuclear power.
Mon, Aug 29 2011 at 2:47 AM EST
The United States uses about 26.6 billion MWh’s, so at the above rate we could satisfy a full one-third of our total annual energy needs. (Of course, this assumes the concurrent deployment of a nationwide Smart Grid that could store and disburse the variable sources of wind power as needed using a variety of technologies — gas or coal peaking, utility scale storage via batteries or fly-wheels, etc).
The major obstacle to efficient generation and use of electricity is neatly side-stepped by making the assumption (Of course, this assumes the concurrent deployment……………..)
Grids have to be supported by generators that will supply a base load at any given time. Those generators have to kick in and meet the demand when there is insufficient wind or sunshine, because consumers cannot suspend operations until the wind blows sufficiently or the sun shines brightly enough.
Until a practical and economical method of storing electricity is found, uncertain rates of generation will remain as the Achilles heel of wind and solar renewable energy generation.
To my knowledge, the only viable scheme to store electricity devised to date, is pumped storage. (worth Googling – there are several such schemes operating effectively around the world) Note that the generators (which convert to pumps in 2.5 minutes) are powered by water – no fuel is used, no pollution generated.
Moira and I visited the Drakensberg scheme. It was very interesting and most impressive.
Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme
Location: In the Northern Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal, close to the town of Bergville.
Employees: Approximately 65
4 x 250MW generating sets
Installed capacity 1000 MW
Nominal operating head of 450m
Average availability over last 3 years: 93, 88%
Average production over last 3 years: 2041 GWh
Average import (pumping) over last 3 years: 2766 GWh
History: Construction of the scheme started in 1974 and the last unit was put into commercial operation in 1981.
General: The Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme was designed to generate electricity for 10 hours with all 4 units per day, pump water back to the top dam for 9 hours with all 4 units per day. A pumped storage scheme generates electricity during peak hours, which occur everyday when the demand of electricity rises. During the off-peak periods Drakensberg will use its reversible turbines to pump the water back to the upper reservoir, readying the system for peak periods.
The power station is also a joint venture between Eskom and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (the Tugela-Vaal Scheme) in the transfer of water from the Thukela River to the Vaal dam…
A special feature of the station is that it is constructed entirely underground with only a dam wall, lift shaft buildings and transmission lines visible at the surface. The four reversible pump turbines are situated 52 storeys below ground level.
The simple but effective Japanese invention that improves wind power generation is an exciting development.
One aspect not mentioned is the noise factor. Does the increase in speed give rise to a corresponding level of noise?
Nuclear Power in Germany (updated August 2011)
• Germany until March 2011 obtained one quarter of its electricity from nuclear energy, using 17 reactors.
• A coalition government formed after the 1998 federal elections had the phasing out of nuclear energy as a feature of its policy. With a new government in 2009, the phase-out was cancelled, but then reintroduced in 2011.
• Public opinion in Germany remains ambivalent and at present does not support building new nuclear plants.
However, Germany depends to a significant degree on electricity imported from France, supplied from nuclear power stations.
Nuclear Power in France (Updated 26 July 2011)
• France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy. This is due to a long-standing policy based on energy security.
• France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over EUR 3 billion per year from this.
• France has been very active in developing nuclear technology. Reactors and fuel products and services are a major export.
• It is building its first Generation III reactor and planning a second.
• About 17% of France’s electricity is from recycled nuclear fuel.
In 2008 French electricity generation was 575 billion kWh gross, and consumption was about 462 billion kWh – 6800 kWh per person. Over the last decade France has exported up to 70 billion kWh net each year and Electricite de France (EdF) expects exports to continue at 65-70 TWh/yr, principally to Germany, Italy, and UK, but also to Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland. Imports are typically about 10 TWh/yr.
France has 58 nuclear reactors operated by Electricite de France, with total capacity of over 63 GWe, supplying 410 billion kWh per year of electricity (net), 74% of the total generated there in 2010. Total generating capacity is 118 GWe, including 25 GWe hydro and 26 GWe fossil fuel. Peak demand is about 96 GWe.
The present situation is due to the French government deciding in 1974, just after the first oil shock, to expand rapidly the country’s nuclear power capacity. This decision was taken in the context of France having substantial heavy engineering expertise but few indigenous energy resources. Nuclear energy, with the fuel cost being a relatively small part of the overall cost, made good sense in minimising imports and achieving greater energy security.
As a result of the 1974 decision, France now claims a substantial level of energy independence and almost the lowest cost electricity in Europe. It also has an extremely low level of CO2 emissions per capita from electricity generation, since over 90% of its electricity is nuclear or hydro.
In mid 2010 a regular energy review of France by the International Energy Agency urged the country increasingly to take a strategic role as provider of low-cost, low-carbon base-load power for the whole of Europe rather than to concentrate on the energy independence which had driven policy since 1973.
Posted on behalf of Anonymous