The best solution for solar and wind-farm backup power?

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John1940
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The best solution for solar and wind-farm backup power?
6 months ago

The best solution that I can see is one that requires use of existing or new fossil fuel power plants if there is not enough hydro-electric or nuclear power available. Solar, wind, hydro and nuclear produce CO2 and the first three will never run out of fuel. The first two, unfortunately, need backup power.

Solar produces no power at night and little if there are thick clouds. When it’s working, however, it will reduce the amount of CO2 emissions overall in many countries including the USA. Fossil fuel plants will automatically throttle back when solar is running. It will also extend the life of fossil fuels for transportation use where there is no good substitute fuel.

Wind power is another kettle of fish. It runs well when there is a lot of wind regardless of time of day or season. But output power varies wildly—far more than I had expected. In one study in the UK on a large wind farm, the measured power was (and is) measured every hour. During one month (January 2011) an hour-by-hour plotted curve was published. The power varied from lows of 200 MW (megawatts) to 3,000 MW, which is its design peak capability. Some of the lows lasted for many hours or even a day or so. Big problem? Not really, even though there was a flurry of activity by AGW folks who wanted the whole loaf of bread and did some ridiculous calculations. The engineers who actually do the work found that they could reduce CO2 emissions by about 40% (and that is arguable still) by simply allowing the existing fossil fuel power plants to run at lower power whenever there was less wind. The cost was close to zero. The system servo feedback was fast enough. Again, there is a reduction in the use of fossil fuel.

I have the wind power variation curve and will provide it for those who are interested.

John1940

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