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The future of energy generation and storage

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Value Collector, May 2, 2015.

  1. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    A lot of money was spent on distribution ("poles and wires") but so far as generation is concerned, we're getting pretty close to a crisis point as old power stations wear out and close, not being replaced with new firm (non-intermittent) capacity of whatever type.

    With the exception of Tasmania, every other state is set to see substantial chunks of their generating capacity closed within the next few years in the absence of serious $ investment in refurbishment which, given the political uncertainty, few if any would be willing to undertake.

    It's a bit like taking rivets out of an aircraft really. Take one out and nothing happens. Take another out and sill it seems OK. But each one you take out weakens it and at some point you've got bits of wreckage strewn everywhere and it's headline news. That's pretty much where we're heading with power generation.

    That we've got some better networks than we previously had doesn't help if there's nothing to put into them in the first place.

    Hazelwood (Vic) is 52 years old and in its final months of operation now. There goes 1600 MW.

    Yallourn W (Vic) units 1 & 2 are 43 years old and the clock is ticking. Another 700 MW between them. Units 3 & 4 are newer but still not young (35 years old now).

    Liddell (NSW) is 45 years old and AGL have done some "patch up" work to keep it going until closure in 2022. There goes another 2000 MW.

    Gladstone (Qld) isn't exactly new either (40 years old now). What condition it's in is pretty much unknown to anyone other than the owners and those who work there but at that age it's unlikely to be in great shape. Capacity is 1680 MW.

    Torrens Island A (SA) is 49 years old and was going to be closed next year until AGL changed their mind. As with Gladstone, only those directly involved really know the details but it's unlikely to be in great shape given its age and long history of cyclic operation which adds stresses. Capacity is 480 MW.

    In addition to that we've seen Morwell (Vic, 190 MW), Anglesea (Vic, 160 MW), Northern (SA, 540 MW), Playford B (SA, 240 MW), Redbank (NSW, 150 MW), Wallerawang (NSW, 1000 MW), Munmorah (NSW, 600 MW at the time of closure but 1400 MW in its' heyday), Swanbank B (Qld, 480 MW) and Collinsville (Qld, 180 MW) all permanently closed in recent years.

    The above are all coal-fired plants with the exception of Torrens Island which is gas (also has the capability to fire oil).

    I've left WA and NT out since they're separate grids. Also left Bell Bay in Tas (closed 2009, oil-fired until 2003 then gas) off the list since it was actually replaced with the new Tamar Valley station (gas although part of it can fire oil as backup fuel if needed) at the same site.

    It's not impossible to refurbish old plant but anything involving high temperature and pressure (and that's exactly what's involved in a coal or gas power station) will suffer degradation over time and a point comes where the cost of refurbishing is huge. WA learned this the hard way when they spent a fortune trying to get Muja A&B (coal, 240MW across 4 units) back up and running. Ended with a huge cost and an explosion. That plus they only ever did get half the plant working (and even then its lifespan is limited) and have given up on the rest.

    With hydro plant you can keep it running pretty much forever. Just replace the bits which wear out and that's it really. Hence Tarraleah (Tas, hydro, in operation since 1938) is running flat out at full base load capacity right now and Lake Margaret (Tas, hydro, in operation since 1914) is also fully operational and running base load. Neither are worn out yet although certainly some bits and pieces have been replaced over the years.

    That said, hydro is the dominant power source only in Tasmania and in other states runs a distant second in NSW and Vic, is a minor source in Qld, and is trivial in SA and WA (and literally zero in NT) so we're not about to run the whole country with water anytime soon.

    With thermal (coal, gas, oil) plant the fundamental problem is that the bits you need to replace are pretty much everything and doing that is a bit like building a car from spare parts - totally uneconomic.

    Overall, the transmission network we've got today is still largely the same one which the former state electricity authorities built decades ago. Much the same with generation in NSW, Vic and SA - the major power stations we have today were built by government decades ago and many are now past or at least rapidly approaching their intended lifespan and we're not doing much in terms of replacement. :2twocents
     
  2. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    Which is exactly what doc, was saying:confused:
     
  3. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    Smurph,let's be honest it is a mess and it isn't going to get better until the politics get out of it.

    The Government needs to sit back and let the electrical system engineers, work out the difference between the wish list, and the realities.

    Currently we have politicians saying what they want, while knowing sod all about the realities of supplying it.

    Politicians need to shut up, sit back and listen to people who understand the subject matter.

    The same applies to media journalists, social media has given them the forum, to expose their beliefs while lacking any real knowledge.

    Is there any wonder, that the silent majority are fed up.:xyxthumbs
     
  4. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    Actually I'm happy that W.A is a segregated grid, the last thing I would want, is to be tied to the Eastern States mess.
     
  5. explod

    explod explod

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    Las vegas now powered by 100% renewables.
     
  6. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    How much is hydro from Hoover Dam? and how much is solar, wind?

    You should apply for a job with Fairfax, another great headline without much substance.:D

    Las Vegas could have been 100% renewable in the 1930's, if they had bought all their electricity, from the hydro station at Hoover dam.

    From my understanding, Hoover dam hydro output is around 2,000MW, that is a really big hydro station.lol

    The Cresent Dunes solar plant output is about 110MW, with 10 hours storage, WOW, that is going to keep the lights on.lol

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crescent_Dunes_Solar_Energy_Project

    But it was a great headline.

    The problem is the uneducated read this dribble and think, free electricity is just around the corner, as usual they're being sold a bunny.lol
     
  7. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    Putting it into perspective:

    Hoover Dam = 2080 MW peak capacity. Long term average production 4.2 billion kilowatt-hours (or 4200 GWh) per year.

    Snowy Hydro (total scheme) = 4100 MW peak capacity with the largest power station being Tumut 3 (1800 MW). Long term average production 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours (4500 GWh) per year.

    Hydro Tasmania (total of 30 hydro power stations) = 2300 MW peak capacity with the largest power station being Gordon (432 MW). Long term average production 10.2 billion kilowatt-hours (10,200 GWh) per year (though Hydro uses a figure of 8.7 billion kWh (8700 GWh) for planning purposes to minimise risk in view of climate change).

    There's a big difference in the way these three systems operate:

    Hoover Dam - water supply is the primary objective with regular but not constant power generation in order to release water.

    Snowy - peak power generation and diversion of water into different catchments for irrigation. Some days it runs a lot, some days it does basically nothing.

    Hydro Tas - base load generation (24/7/365) is the primary purpose with additional production for peak loads as required. Any other use of the water is merely a sideline (vast majority is not used for anything else and ends up in the ocean after it goes through the power stations). :2twocents
     
  8. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    On the subject of Tasmania hydro, how did the storage situation end up?
     
  9. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    On a positive note, it is great that solar storage is being developed and the U.S certainly seem to be taking it in board.
    I wonder how they keep the solar reflectors clean, there appears to be a lot of them.
     
  10. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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  11. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    Went from one extreme to the other. The worst drought on record was immediately followed by the highest inflows on record.

    We did get all the diesel generators installed but only ever put about 40% of them into base load operation. The flood turned up just as the others were ready to run and we ended up shutting the whole lot down and not long after that shutting down all gas-fired generation as well. By the time Basslink was fixed, there was no need to use it for importing power from Vic at all and only in the past few weeks has it actually been used for that purpose to any significant extent.

    Lowest storage for the system as whole was 12.5% in early May. That's an all time record low (and the records go back literally 100 years). Never has the system been under more stress than it was at that point. Then we got an outright flood as soon as the rain started falling. Storage was back over 20% just two weeks after the low of 12.5% was reached and ultimately rose to 46.1% in mid-November. As of now it's sitting on 44.9%.

    Looking at it on a catchment by catchment basis:

    Great Lake / Arthurs Lake = Low was 14.6% on 25th April with Great Lake itself, which feeds Poatina (second largest station in the system) reaching a low of 10.6% at that time. Highest since then for the two lakes combined is 44.6% on 12th December. As of now it's at 44.5%.

    Gordon = Low was an alarming 5.8% in early April and this storage feeds the largest power station in the state. Rather a lot of people went down there taking photos and that image of the intake tower's base "toe" and the intake screens, which are about 46m below the surface when the lake is full, being uncovered and visible for all to see is not something we'll hopefully ever see again. The highest level since the crisis is 32.6% which is the present level.

    Derwent = Low was 15.1% at the beginning of May just before the heavy rain started. Highest was 77.1% at the end of November and it's at 72.5% now. The Derwent system is a high priority for production over Summer and is being run as hard as possible without losing efficiency. Power has to come from somewhere, so with the high levels this catchment has a high priority for production at the moment (thus conserving water in dams which are lower eg Gordon and in due course balancing storage levels across the system).

    King = Low was 16.1% in early February. There was a plan to draw it drastically lower, literally "below zero" (that is, below the normal lower limit) if need be with that to commence in May and the work to enable that was ready by that time. But just as that was ready to go, the rains arrived so it didn't need to be done in practice. Storage reached 100% at the beginning of July and remained at or close to that level until mid-November despite constant base load running of John Butters power station since the storage reached a high level in June. Present level is 80.3% and as with the Derwent the King scheme is a high priority for production for the same reasons - makes sense to use a storage that's almost full and conserve water in dams which are lower thus balancing the system over time.

    Pieman = Low was 40% on 2nd of May, this scheme intentionally being held higher in % terms due to it's relatively large generating capacity (480 MW) with that being the last line of defence if something else had gone wrong elsewhere in the system (eg if Gordon had run into serious trouble with the low water levels or if something simply broke down). Once the rain arrived it came down so heavily that storage was at 100% and spilling just two weeks after the low was reached. Present level is 51.2% which is about right for this time of year, having been run very heavily over Winter and Spring to drawn down storage (thus avoiding the need to release water from dams which are still low). Operation over Summer and Autumn really depends on the weather since the present water levels are about right in view of the overall storage situation in the system.

    Mersey-Forth = Low was 34.1% on 2nd May and the rest is much the same as with the Pieman. Storage hit 100% just 3 weeks after the low. Present level is 45.5%, having been run very heavily (saving water elsewhere) until storage was drawn down to a point that's balanced in view of the system as a whole (also having regard to some maintenance outages in this catchment planned for early next year). As with the Pieman, production over the coming months depends on the weather (unless there's an actual need for a higher level of output) since the present storage levels are about right.

    Lake Margaret = Low was 17% in mid-February and the high was 100% with the storage either full or close to full from mid-June to mid-November. Present storage is 91.1% with base load operation for the same reasons as the Derwent and King systems.

    Diesel generation = All shut down in May once it started raining heavily. The Meadowbank, Catagunya, George Town, Port Latta and Que River diesel power stations which were set up in a big hurry last Summer were decommissioned recently and most of the associated equipment is no longer physically in the state (everything was rented so it just went back to the owners).

    Incidentally we did offer some 25 MW trailer mounted gas turbines to SA in order to restore power to Whyalla, Port Augusta etc when the line were damaged in the storm in September. For whatever reason they didn't want them however but they were packed up and ready to go and the RAAF was ready to fly them over straight away if they'd wanted them.

    Gas generation = All shut down in May due to the heavy rains bringing enough dams up to decent levels that production from the associated power stations met demand without needing gas. The combined cycle plant hasn't run since although the open cycle units have had the occasional run when the combination of gas and electricity prices in Victoria makes it profitable to run them. Depending on rainfall, that is assuming no floods, the combined cycle unit will run early in 2017 for a while (few months).
     
  12. explod

    explod explod

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  13. basilio

    basilio

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    Running an entire country on Renewable Energy

    Yes it can be done. The evidence is in. The how to's and what if's are being sorted. Check it out

    'This is possible. We did it': the week Portugal ran on renewables
    Campaigners say the 107 hours when the country was powered by wind, sun and water show they can replace fossil fuels


    [​IMG]

    Renewables kept the lights on in Lisbon for four and a half days in May. Photograph: ImageBroker/Rex/Shutterstock
    Sam Jones in Alto Minho


    @swajones

    Monday 26 December 2016 19.00 AEDT Last modified on Monday 26 December 2016 19.02 AEDT


    Comments
    487

    ...The 130 giant wind turbines that sprout from the peaks, slicing the air with a rhythmic sigh, have helped Portugal to a remarkable achievement. For four and a half days in May the country ran entirely on electricity from renewable sources: wind, hydro and solar power.
    Despite fears of a blackout, the lights stayed on for a record 107 hours between 6.45am on Saturday 7 May and 5.45pm the following Wednesday.
    Francisco Ferreira, president of the Portuguese environmental NGO Zero, got wind of what was going on when a friend called that weekend. “He said: ‘I’ve been looking at the graphs and for the past two days we’ve been 100% renewable on electricity production.’ After that, we looked at the data and arrived at 107 hours. We confirmed it with the national energy network, who said we’d had 4.5 days.
    “It was great to see that the system was working; to see that we could manage all these renewables even though the circumstances were quite challenging.

    Ferreira and his fellow clean energy advocates hold up those few days as further proof that renewables can reliably replace fossil fuels.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/20...we-did-it-the-week-portugal-ran-on-renewables
     
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  14. basilio

    basilio

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    Had a look at this story. Looks exceptionally good from an investment and sustainability POV. Cost effective power for Wesfarmers, 6% return for investors, long term clean renewable energy .
    Let's go..
     
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  15. orr

    orr

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    Old king coal was a merry old soul... a merry old soul was he??? how are those black lung stats up there in QLD coming along?...well... lets not be too negative.
    There's an old adage that talks of the reliability of anvils... Russian tractors are slightly less complex and more reliable... but I'm not here to upset noco.
    Sitting some where between anvils and soviet era tractors in this regard are Solar cells.
    Solar cells are basically a slither of rock with a couple of wires attached. So if power generation lurches us back to some sort of 'stone' age? I ask what will be the lodgical extension... I'm off to do the research... 'Raquel Welch in 'One Million Years B.C'

    Adani are going big on solar...who'd a thought...
     
  16. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    Well it's now 2017 so how are things going? A few points to note in the Australian context.

    Snowy Hydro seem to have adopted a strategy which involves lower production. They did it pretty much at midnight New Year's Eve and have ended their fairly high output levels seen recently in favour of a far more conservative approach. No choice really, they'd run out of water otherwise, but it's a change of some significance compared to the recent past.

    Add in the decline in gas-fired generation as the Qld LNG production ramps up and we're back to coal in a big way.

    AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) is now forecasting a supply shortfall of about 1500 MW between Vic and SA for early 2018. Putting that into perspective, it's about 11% of combined peak demand in those two states and assumes that nothing goes wrong (unlikely in practice) and that maximum supply is available from both NSW and Tas (probably can be done). If something does go wrong then that 11% figure goes up, potentially quite considerably.

    So things are going to get rather interesting unless there's no heatwaves in Vic / SA after the present Summer or if such heatwaves only ever occur on non-working days.

    Solutions aren't easy in the available time. Too late to build anything new unless we take a "wartime" approach and just do it with no normal planning processes etc. Can't really keep Hazelwood going since they're struggling to keep it going for the next 3 months as it is and then it's all over. Not totally impossible but it doesn't seem likely to happen now unless someone's got some serious $ to throw at it.

    Can't recommission Morwell as that too has problems. Can't recommission Playford B as it's already being knocked down.

    At most there might be a possibility to recommission Northern (540 MW, SA) and possibly Anglesea (160 MW, Vic) if nothing has been dismantled yet. Even that would require some effort though since the associated mines would need to be put back into production and in the case of Northern there's the issue of former mine workers having left the town etc as well. And even if both were recommissioned, that's only 700 MW between them so less than half the gap but at least it's something.

    Which leaves the available solutions as blackouts or outright rationing (in whatever form) whenever the temperature goes up and the wind stops.

    NSW - AEMO forecasts that it'll be OK but there's nothing much to spare within the state. So they're reliant on Queensland should anything not work in NSW.

    Qld and Tas - Nothing to worry about in terms of having enough bulk power supply. Just the normal risks that a storm brings the lines down in your street etc but there's enough power as such.

    So the future's looking rather black. More black coal burnt in Qld and NSW. More blackouts in Vic and SA. Accounts in the black in Tas.

    What won't be going black is the hair of anyone in SA trying to run a business that needs reliable power. That'll be either turning white or simply falling out if it hasn't already.
     
  17. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

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    A sad example of the lack of political leadership that has let the situation deteriorate this far. Liberal- Labor whatever, a pack of short sighted idiots. :mad:
     
  18. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

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    The last time there was a commitment to build new base load generation in either Vic or SA which was actually built and not subsequently rendered uneconomic was way back in 1988 when Vic decided to build half (that is, 2 units but not all 4) of Loy Yang B. These two generating units commenced operation in 1993 and 1996 so even they aren't exactly new these days.

    Pelican Point was built in SA for base load but isn't economic for that use. Half of it isn't running at all and the other half is off more than it's on for that reason.

    I won't name it on a public forum at this stage but industry rumour is that there's another significant plant that's in a fairly poor state these days and which could well end up going the same way as Hazelwood before too much longer. Nothing official from the owners at this stage, it's business as usual, but there's plenty of rumours. If it does close then the location is such that it'll directly add to the supply shortfall in Vic + SA.

    Outside those states, in NSW the Smithfield plant (171 MW) is closing around the middle of this year whilst Liddell (2000 MW) is closing in 2022. Both of those are publicly announced so no secrets there.

    As for the politicians, I don't think they've got a clue as to how much of a mess we're in really. There might be one or two individuals who "get it" but at the party / policy level they sure don't.
     
  19. sptrawler

    sptrawler

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    My guess is it will turn extremely nasty, or extremely expensive, for power over East.
    No one has the political will to give guidelines, therefore no one can invest money in power generation, unless it is renewable which adds to the problem.
    Australia is tying itself up in knots, over political correctness, which in the end will result in a serious energy crisis.IMO
    Time of day pricing will go through the roof,IMO to curb peak demand, then the problem will still accelerate as fossil fuel plants close.
    It will be a sad case of "be carefull what you wish for".LOL
    I bet Tassie isn't going to run down their reserve capacity, to levels that don't cover domestic demand.LOL
     
  20. Tisme

    Tisme Apathetic at Best

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    Well the QLD Govt bit the bullet, listened to the electorate and is combining the previously hived off sections that were to be sold under the previous Little Dictator. It will remain in the hands of the public and apparently mean our power will rise ~$30 this year, while others states will be at least triple that.
     
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