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If Elon Ran The Grid

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by TheTalkingMule, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    From a resource availability and neutral cost perspective, do you think Elon could build out a 90% renewable Western Interconnection within 6 years and the whole country within 12?

    Assuming we gave over total control of the grid and all policy while guaranteeing roughly the same $/kWh revenue for the next 20 years, could we get to 90% renewables out West within the next 5 years without spending any more than we do today? I have to think that eliminating any need for regional political wrangling and just building out in a logical manner gets us there.

    It's simply a lack of cohesive transition planning that's holding us back, right?

    Existing fossil capacity would have to be phased out in a semi-fair manner, but so long as we stopped build out immediately I think it could be handled. Break ground on 5 more gigafactories today and another 5 a few years from now.
     
  2. KarenRei

    KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei

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    Well, at least you didn't say "100" ;) Things you'd have to do:

    * Uprate all hydro tremendously (higher peak power, lower capacity factor).
    * An extensive network of HVDC lines and substations
    * Battery buffers as possible, but in 5 years you're not going to get production up enough to replace peaking
    * Convert fossil plants to peakers where most economically convenient, phase out all others.
    * Lay down a massive amount of solar and wind.

    Five years, I don't think it could be done. Maybe ten if you went all-out.
     
  3. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Within the realm of total policy control could be things like zero-interest loans for residential solar at absurdly low mandated install prices.

    If a blockchain-style market were immediately established, you could almost sit back and have the marketplace handle the heavy lifting on storage. Design 20-year storage contracts with rapid build-out commitments. Overbuild like crazy on renewables then let the incentives drive storage. People will line up to print that money.

    Germany installed 2.1GW on solar in one month back in December of 2011 just because their tariff was set to decline in 2012. I have a sneaking suspicion the market could do this quite easily and cheaply if we aimed it in the right direction.

    Edit to Add: The only reason I didn't say 100% was to avoid the extra cost of total disruption. If we didn't have to care about compensating projects in their infancy, we could certainly do 100%. I'm trying to ask if this is doable at no incremental cost over 20 years.
     
  4. Ampster

    Ampster Member

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    What I would add to the above statement is to convert them to hybrid peakers. An example of that is a recent SCE conversion of a combined cycle plant to a hybrid. They calculated the ramp up time it would take this plant to go from a cold start to half capacity. Then they front loaded enough battery capacity to cover that capacity needed from cold start to half capacity. The rest of the ramp up from 50% capacity I believe was pretty quick so there was no need to cover that ramp up with batteries. What this approach did was SCE could completely shut down that plant not burn the natural gas to keep the plant warm and on standby. The result was that it saved a large amount of natural gas consumption while on standby. The ramp up was also improved because the batteries could be modulated more precisely than a ramping peaker or combined cycle.
     
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  5. Economite

    Economite Member

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    "neutral cost perspective" is the main barrier. (and it's important). I don't think you can achieve all of the following goals simultaneously (i) financially encourage installation of new renewable power sources and batteries, (ii) keep rates level for customers who draw all of their power off the grid (ie have no on site batteries/panels), (iii) maintain uninterrupted service year round for peak demand from all customers (including folks who usually rely on on-site solar/batteries but sometimes need to draw on the grid), and (iv) avoid pouring tax dollars-- as opposed to ratepayer dollars-- into the system.
     

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