DailyDirt: Thanks For The Free Energy, Sun

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The world economy still largely depends on fossil fuels for energy, and nuclear energy isn't exactly popular after decades of use. Until we figure out nuclear fusion, if we want to reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons, we're going to need to ramp up renewable energy sources from solar and wind. Solar energy capacity seems to be growing robustly, but apparently, there are still some bugs to work out. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

Filed Under: blackouts, energy, fossil fuels, natural gas, renewable energy, solar, solar farms


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 5:41pm

    Frustrating

    "Solar farms in California are producing "too much" electricity in the spring and fall -- and the solution so far is to just turn them off. This problem of "excess" renewable energy isn't expected to get better as more solar energy is added to the grid, but hopefully, the state of California will figure out a better way to balance the electrical supply and demand (such as exporting the solar power to nearby states or storing the energy in large batteries). [url]'

    Decades ago the Germans had the means to convert electricity to fossil fuels. Low yield, but workable.

    There's a hobbyist guy in the States that uses surplus electricity from his cells to liquify hydrogen and store it underground. Yes it's leaky, but it's workable.

    You can do better, California

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 16 Apr 2016 @ 10:20pm

      Hydrogen

      Have invisible flames.

      It is immensely dangerous to put the flame out, as this quickly causes an extremely explosive mix with air.

      It does not smell.

      It leaks through most metal, and it causes most metal to be brittle by diffusing between the microscopic grains the metal consists of.

      If it is stored cold it must be chilled or the pressure start to rise, and the cold temperature also causes metal to become brittle

      If it is stored pressured any valve or container that fails cause a serious incident. And additional temperature causes additional pressure.


      And it is massively explosive, most mixtures with air does not just burn, but creates a FAE. Mixtures would blow up an entire house or a factory, and have. And will again.


      The incumbents focus on hydrogen is an attempt to distract us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 15 Apr 2016 @ 6:15pm

    There are systems that can take surplus solar energy and convert it to hydrogen using electrolysis and water from a lake or ocean. At night, during the winter, etc., the hydrogen can be run through a fuel cell, which has the effect of using that surplus solar power after the fact.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 15 Apr 2016 @ 7:20pm

    “Watts” Are Units Of Power, Not Energy

    Even the original article was careful to refer to those numbers as amounts of “power” or “solar capacity”, not “energy”.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Channelling Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 16 Apr 2016 @ 2:57am

      Re: “Watts” Are Units Of Power, Not Energy

      Larry, you need to reread what was written.
      China has become the nation with the highest amount of solar energy producing capacity -- 43.2 gigawatts -- compared to 2nd place Germany at 38.4 gigawatts and the US with 27.8 gigawatts. Solar capacity numbers don't exactly translate into how much energy is expected to be produced (or actually will be produced), but more is presumably better.
      Now, try again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 15 Apr 2016 @ 7:24pm

    Natural gas?

    Why don't they just shut down the natural gas plants where there is excess electricity being produced? Natural gas plants can be stopped and started quickly.

    Perhaps the real issue is political, not technical.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pixelation, 15 Apr 2016 @ 10:20pm

      Re: Natural gas?

      "Why don't they just shut down the natural gas plants where there is excess electricity..."

      This was my first thought as well. Seems like a no brainer and a good reason to have solar. Perhaps an expert could explain why they are doing something this stupid on the surface.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Lurk-a-lot (profile), 18 Apr 2016 @ 12:55am

        Re: Re: Natural gas?

        It's because it's not stupid or political - Solar doesn't work at night and doesn't produce enough power during the evenings when everyone is home.

        It's cheaper to switch off the solar than to go through and manage daily shutdown/startup cycles for Gas or Coal powerplants.

        The solar power could be used to pump water uphill at times of excess and release it to produce power later, or in those places where there are better uses for water, to compress air instead.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 15 Apr 2016 @ 10:43pm

      Re: Why don't they just shut down the natural gas plants where there is excess electricity being produced?

      Perhaps because they are run by different companies, not by the state.

      Capitalistic free-market competition versus Socialistic central planning, you know ...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2016 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: Why don't they just shut down the natural gas plants where there is excess electricity being produced?

        "Capitalistic free-market competition"

        As if this actually exists.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 16 Apr 2016 @ 9:49pm

      Synchrony

      Perhaps the real issue is political, not technical.
      It's clearly not technical

      It is partly corruption, partly a result of superPAC contribution and lobbying, and partly because commercial monopoly power over infrastructure breed abuse.

      An artificial low supply makes it easier to blackmail the populace. This makes the profit soar by not supplying sufficient energy.

      Citizens in USA get abused in so many ways. Another example of abuse by constricting supply is AIDS medicine. Medicine that costs less than 365 dollars pr. year in India for medicine with higher consistent quality, and more than 10.000 in the land of the flayed.

      from the article: renewable energy sources and other power plants can't handle the peak electricity demands during hot LA summers
      Solar panels is marvelously well suited to handle the summer peak demand, as the consumption and supply change in synchrony.

      Even the etymology of the word synchrony drives this home: From Ancient Greek σύν ‎(sún, “with”) + χρόνος ‎(khrónos, “time”).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 4:25am

        Re: Synchrony

        Or maybe according to the article where they describe the process of cycling a natural gas plant as taking several hours. You know, on time scales much too slow to react to the solar fluctuation.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 15 Apr 2016 @ 11:01pm

    Negative price

    In the UK, companies operating the generators bid to provide electricity into the pool.

    There have been times where the generator companies had bid negative prices just so they can keep their plants running.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Socrates, 16 Apr 2016 @ 9:20pm

    It is not a technical problem

    NV Energy receive 75% of the income from the residential solar panels in Nevada, without paying for the panels. That is 75% gross, without paying a dime. NV Energy claimed that they should get someone else's income because they would have to act like a battery for the solar panels; a claim that is a lie. The use of electricity is much higher when the sun cause air conditioners to run, and the panels produce their electricity at the same time, in synchrony. Less storage capacity and less peek power would be needed with ample residential photovoltaics.

    Those how invested suddenly got their income slashed to a quarter. They got to keep the expenses though, all of it. Residents, schools and libraries were victims.

    It caused Solar City to leave Nevada and lay off all employees.


    This makes USA into a kind of a joke.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Socrates, 16 Apr 2016 @ 11:16pm

    Errata

    s/how/who/g

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jim, 17 Apr 2016 @ 6:15am

    right?

    So the engineering for the plant was incorrect? Built for the warm days, not the hot or cold? Or could it just be a seasonal problem? The sun passes by this location inconviently, at the wrong times of the year? I wonder if these sun farms, notice anything different about the weather around them now. But that is counterintuitive, who cares about downwind from anything anymore. Have the weather patterns changed? You absorb energy here, what happens there? I haven't seen studies yet, from either side, they are too busy blaming each other for the rising costs of energy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2016 @ 3:12pm

    Capitalism doesn't want Earth to fully rely on solar energy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2016 @ 10:55am

    We must destroy the Sun because we cannot compete we free!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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