Nice headline on the Beeb. It has got the enviro-numpties all excited too.
So on Friday the 26th of May 2017 the UK hit a peak of 8.7GW of solar generation, albeit for about 1 hour. As I type on the 27th of May (the day after) we’re only making 4.8GW of solar. And if you look on the gridwatch web page we only made about 1GW on the 17th of May, 9 days earlier.
So, is this something to shout from the rooftops about as the greenies are? No. Because we still have almost zero storage capacity for these very variable ‘renewable’ energy sources so as the sun goes down or the wind drops the gas fired power stations have to pick up the load. And if we have an overcast day they have to run all day.
Every watt of solar power we install that doesn’t have storage reduces our reliance on fossil fuels by exactly ZERO. The rabid Tesla Musk-o-philes have been having fits over the Tesla solar roof tiles. As if somehow this has never been done before. And ignore the use of toughened glass that is about 6x the production energy compared to clay.
Even with a Tesla powerwall you might have 1 day of storage, after which you need to use fossil fuels again. The long standing global refusal to invest in nuclear energy research and the more recent wholesale rejection of the technology is just pushing us more towards fossil fuels for base load while we continue to throw money at pointless projects that do nothing more than waste resources and make very little impact on CO2 emissions.
And to add more salt to the wound, right now we’re using 2GW of ‘biomass’ power. This comes mostly from Drax power station which has been converted from burning coal to burning wood pellets sourced from North America. And finally people are starting to see the light that this is not green at all.
We need large scale storage as well as local storage. The feed in tariffs paid out to encourage ‘renewable’ takeup has promoted the installation of systems with zero storage. It doesn’t pay to use storage as you only get paid when power is pushed out into the grid. This has not helped us and has just made the early adopters a lot of money. We need megawatt scale storage if not larger. And we must not be swayed by Lord Elon and his quest to swamp the world in lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries work for portable use as they have good energy density (for now) but they are limited in charge/discharge cycles and also in the depth of discharge. In order to get good life you can’t fully discharge or even fully charge a lithium battery. And you’re still talking maybe 10,000 cycles but more normally 1000.
Japan has installed a 60MWh Vanadium redox flow battery to stabilise grid fluctuations from renewables which has reportedly done over 400,000 cycles. Flow batteries can go from 100% charge rate to 100% discharge rate in about 10ms. Cooling is easy with the liquid electrolyte. Capacity can be increased with more storage tanks. The energy density is lower than lithium but this is not a worry for fixed installations. More importantly is that you can go from 100% charged to 0% time and time again.
We must look at sensible technology and what is needed rather than the well polished sales pitch and the frothy mouthed followers of a media luvvie.
If you want subsidies for solar, wind or any other unreliable ‘renewable’ tech then you must include a sensible amount of storage. Biomass must be stopped! And research into gen 4 and 5 nuclear must be funded now.