The Green Energy Movement Gives Us SF6, a Bad “New” Gas

 

More bad news from the environmental movement:

Where once large coal-fired power stations brought energy to millions, the drive to combat climate change means they are now being replaced by mixed sources of power including wind, solar and gas.

This has resulted in many more connections to the electricity grid, and a rise in the number of electrical switches and circuit breakers that are needed to prevent serious accidents.

Collectively, these safety devices are called switchgear. The vast majority use SF6 gas to quench arcs and stop short circuits.

Also: levels are being under-reported and it’s hard to get rid of.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 25 comments.

  1. James Gawron Thatcher

    Eri,

    We’d better be careful of what we wish for. We just might get it.

    The Great British Wind Farm Scandal: These Are The Heads That Should Roll

    For anyone prepared to do their research – as opposed to take back handers from the renewable industry, mouth green platitudes or get frightened off by the wind industry’s super-aggressive lawyers – all this has been obvious for years.

    Now, even the wind industry’s leading spokesmen have come half way to admitting how utterly crap and pointless wind energy is.

    In England, we learned this week from the head of the wind energy lobby group Renewable UK, the wind levels are so puny and unreliable that turbines cannot generate economically viable quantities of energy.

    AOC wanted to spend 90+ trillion dollars on this garbage. Then she was told it might not be such a good idea. Then she said it was all just “aspirational”. These kinds of aspirations could be the end of civilization as we know it.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:17 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. OkieSailor Member

    There are no solutions, only trade-offs.
    Thomas Sowell

    https://www.azquotes.com/quote/703191

    There may be improvements but sometimes they come with downsides that may be unacceptable, especially if they make the original problem worse. And they are almost always unexpected and unpredicted.

    • #2
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:21 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    I would like to see a federal law that renders null and void any laws, compacts, or other agreements that prevent home- and building-owners from installing solar panels (and perhaps an accompanying thing preventing power companies from punishing solar users through rates or other means). 

    The correct use of solar is individual choice, not a wholesale tax boondoggle. 

    • #3
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. David Foster Member

    “(and perhaps an accompanying thing preventing power companies from punishing solar users through rates or other means)”

    Not sure how “punishing solar users” would be defined: an intermittent source such as wind or solar requires other resources, with their associated capital cost, to be available for those intervals where the “renewable” source is taking a break. Paying for solar inputs to the grid on a flat KWH basis, at a level equal to what *reliable* grid resources cost, represents a subsidy to the solar users. But try to explain this to a politician.

    • #4
    • September 13, 2019, at 1:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Eridemus Coolidge
    Eridemus Post author

    Meanwhile, back at the airport (activists with simple solutions):

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-49636149

    • #5
    • September 13, 2019, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    David Foster (View Comment):

    “(and perhaps an accompanying thing preventing power companies from punishing solar users through rates or other means)”

    Not sure how “punishing solar users” would be defined: an intermittent source such as wind or solar requires other resources, with their associated capital cost, to be available for those intervals where the “renewable” source is taking a break. Paying for solar inputs to the grid on a flat KWH basis, at a level equal to what *reliable* grid resources cost, represents a subsidy to the solar users. But try to explain this to a politician.

    I guess I’m thinking in terms of the proposed robot tax where the government wants you to pay money to not use people. 

    • #6
    • September 13, 2019, at 2:40 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    I am a bit confused about the section of your quoted material that states

    they are now being replaced by mixed sources of power including wind, solar and gas.

    This has resulted in many more connections to the electricity grid, and a rise in the number of electrical switches and circuit breakers that are needed to prevent serious accidents.

    An individual, stand alone solar array on private property does not need any connections to anything. Period. Once you have the system installed, you can be off the grid.

    The top two advantages are future cost of utilities’ bills dropping to zero. And being self sufficient when a blackout occurs, due to a squirrel sitting down on electrical wires in an improper manner, or the need for Utility Giant PG & E deciding that due to high wind and its potential for fire, they determine a need to shut off services.

    @robtgilsdorf

    • #7
    • September 13, 2019, at 2:42 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Randy Webster Member

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    There are no solutions, only trade-offs.
    Thomas Sowell

    https://www.azquotes.com/quote/703191

    There may be improvements but sometimes they come with downsides that may be unacceptable, especially if they make the original problem worse. And they are almost always unexpected and unpredicted.

    It’s possible that the downsides are both expected and predicted, but that the people advocating the policies don’t care.

    • #8
    • September 13, 2019, at 2:55 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    I am a bit confused about the section of your quoted material that states

    they are now being replaced by mixed sources of power including wind, solar and gas.

    This has resulted in many more connections to the electricity grid, and a rise in the number of electrical switches and circuit breakers that are needed to prevent serious accidents.

    An individual, stand alone solar array on private property does not need any connections to anything. Period. Once you have the system installed, you can be off the grid.

    The top two advantages are future cost of utilities’ bills dropping to zero. And being self sufficient when a blackout occurs, due to a squirrel sitting down on electrical wires in an improper manner, or the need for Utility Giant PG & E deciding that due to high wind and its potential for fire, they determine a need to shut off services.

    @robtgilsdorf

    I think you [email protected] 

     

    • #9
    • September 13, 2019, at 3:05 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. DonG Coolidge

    Lucky for us that global warming gases are a hoax.

    • #10
    • September 13, 2019, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Eridemus Coolidge
    Eridemus Post author

    @caroljoy

    I am a bit confused about…

    Maybe the key is the comment “connections to the electricity grid,” i.e.. alternative sources being drawn into the big blended industrial supply – not a reference to disconnected private systems?

    • #11
    • September 13, 2019, at 3:59 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. OldPhil Coolidge

    TBA (View Comment):

    I would like to see a federal law that renders null and void any laws, compacts, or other agreements that prevent home- and building-owners from installing solar panels (and perhaps an accompanying thing preventing power companies from punishing solar users through rates or other means).

    The correct use of solar is individual choice, not a wholesale tax boondoggle.

    FWIW, our age-55+ community had a new developer/builder come in when the original developer went belly up after the housing collapse. The new builder included solar panels (I believe 5) on each new home, with an option for the homeowner to add 5 more. Almost no H/Os added the options in the first section, and although the builder is putting up homes like hotcakes, it dropped the solar panels completely in subsequent sections. 

    • #12
    • September 13, 2019, at 6:19 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    TBA (View Comment):

    I would like to see a federal law that renders null and void any laws, compacts, or other agreements that prevent home- and building-owners from installing solar panels (and perhaps an accompanying thing preventing power companies from punishing solar users through rates or other means).

    Funny. I would like to see a federal law that requires solar and wind installations to be completely disconnected from the grid. If you don’t have enough solar and/or wind capacity, along with battery storage, that the average generation meets the need of the site, then your system is a net destabilizer of the power grid for everyone else. Which raises everyone else’s power bills. (If you have sufficient capacity and battery storage, you don’t need a grid connection.)

    You should not be allowed to harm your neighbor with your solar or wind installation. There is no way to make grid-connected solar or wind anything but a net negative to everyone else.

    The correct use of solar is individual choice, not a wholesale tax boondoggle.

    Nor is it license to [expletive] your neighbors.

    • #13
    • September 14, 2019, at 5:13 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    I would like to see a federal law that renders null and void any laws, compacts, or other agreements that prevent home- and building-owners from installing solar panels (and perhaps an accompanying thing preventing power companies from punishing solar users through rates or other means).

    Funny. I would like to see a federal law that requires solar and wind installations to be completely disconnected from the grid. If you don’t have enough solar and/or wind capacity, along with battery storage, that the average generation meets the need of the site, then your system is a net destabilizer of the power grid for everyone else. Which raises everyone else’s power bills. (If you have sufficient capacity and battery storage, you don’t need a grid connection.)

    You should not be allowed to harm your neighbor with your solar or wind installation. There is no way to make grid-connected solar or wind anything but a net negative to everyone else.

    The correct use of solar is individual choice, not a wholesale tax boondoggle.

    Nor is it license to [expletive] your neighbors.

    I’m cool with that.

    Edit: I just want my property rights back.

    • #14
    • September 14, 2019, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Stad Thatcher

    TBA (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    I would like to see a federal law that renders null and void any laws, compacts, or other agreements that prevent home- and building-owners from installing solar panels (and perhaps an accompanying thing preventing power companies from punishing solar users through rates or other means).

    Funny. I would like to see a federal law that requires solar and wind installations to be completely disconnected from the grid. If you don’t have enough solar and/or wind capacity, along with battery storage, that the average generation meets the need of the site, then your system is a net destabilizer of the power grid for everyone else. Which raises everyone else’s power bills. (If you have sufficient capacity and battery storage, you don’t need a grid connection.)

    You should not be allowed to harm your neighbor with your solar or wind installation. There is no way to make grid-connected solar or wind anything but a net negative to everyone else.

    The correct use of solar is individual choice, not a wholesale tax boondoggle.

    Nor is it license to [expletive] your neighbors.

    I’m cool with that.

    Edit: I just want my property rights back.

    What property rights? The government owns everything.

    • #15
    • September 15, 2019, at 5:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    You should not be allowed to harm your neighbor with your solar or wind installation. There is no way to make grid-connected solar or wind anything but a net negative to everyone else.

    Yes. This.

    • #16
    • September 15, 2019, at 6:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    I grew up hearing the great Davy Crockett say, “Be sure you’re right – then go ahead.”

    I started to say lots of these greenies never heard that, but then on second thought I realized they are never wrong.

    • #17
    • September 15, 2019, at 6:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Unsk Member

    “There is no way to make grid-connected solar or wind anything but a net negative to everyone else.”

    Phil, Please explain. Here is California we are woefully short of power capacity and have to import from other states much of our power. Every little solar collector reduces the amount we need to import. In urban areas, I am not aware of functioning wind turbines for urban use. They are for more rural use and need what is called laminar flow wind, which urban land use typically disrupts. 

    Are you saying that those people who have solar are not paying their fair share of the Power Utilities sunk cost of power generation? Where is the harm, other than the tax credit scams?

    • #18
    • September 15, 2019, at 7:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Phil, Please explain. Here is California we are woefully short of power capacity and have to import from other states much of our power. Every little solar collector reduces the amount we need to import.

    Well, it does reduce the energy you import. But, strange as this sounds, the energy content is the cheapest part of bulk power delivery to customers. Because the grid has no storage, every bit of energy put into it must be matched by energy consumed somewhere, from fractional second to fractional second. If you move that energy very far, you lose a lot of it in the power lines. And if you move it long distances, you can overload those long-distance lines.

    The problem with wind and solar is that it cannot be throttled to match the consumers. Solar peaks at local true noon. And drops like a rock with even a few clouds. The “best” consumer of solar power is air conditioning (sun ==> hot), but air conditioning power consumption peaks in mid to late afternoon. The grid doesn’t store energy, remember? So at noon, lots of conventional generation has to shut down while the solar generation peaks. Then, a few hours later, the conventional generation has to spin back up because the solar gen has died when everyone is getting home and cranking the AC. A good discussion of this phenomenon (the “duck” curve, sometimes called a “bathtub” curve) can be found on JoNova’s site:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2018/06/solar-overload-costs-a-fortune-as-the-super-duck-curve-flood-of-electricity-hits-australia/

    Wind is worse, since it generally varies randomly across the day and across weeks, though calm at night is more common. Every gust is a spike into the grid that has to be mirrored by a reverse spike in some conventional generator (one that has a throttle).

    Solar and wind are both terrible in cold climates, as those region’s electrical load peaks in the wee hours before sunrise, as outdoor temperatures hit bottom. Again, mismatch between time of generation and time of consumption. The grid cannot store energy. Disturbances of more than a second or two (shorter for bigger disturbances) must be smoothed by throttlable generators.

    (continued)

    • #19
    • September 15, 2019, at 10:03 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Remember I said the energy content was the cheapest part of bulk (conventional) generation? Guess what the most expensive part is? Throttle adjustments above or below optimum load. The severity of the $$ penalty varies with fuel type (nuke, coal, oil, natural gas), but all suffer. (Natural gas is least affected, which is why it is preferred as “swing” load.) Keep in mind that cloudy, calm conditions aren’t that unusual, so conventional generation has to be able to carry the worst case peak load, or you get brown-outs. But if you build them so that peak load is efficient, solar and wind will constantly push them below that best efficiency throttle point. If you fail to build them, those generators will be regularly pushed not just beyond their best throttle point, but into ruinous mechanical wear.

    But batteries!!! yells the greeny. As pointed out recently, a complete year’s worth of battery production from the biggest and most efficient battery factory on the planet, gives you mere seconds of storage at the scale of actual grid power generation and consumption. Using batteries to even shift solar gen/load from noon to late afternoon (a few hours) is technologically out of reach. Shifting gen at noon to load in the wee hours of the following morning is pure fantasy. Batteries aren’t the answer, at least not at this moment in history. In my not so humble opinion (BSEE), batteries (chemical energy storage) won’t ever approach the capacity of fuels (also chemical energy storage) because fuels need little or no structure to contain them. Batteries have only a small fraction of their mass actually involved in the chemical energy exchange.

    Connecting solar and wind to the grid is really, really, really bad for the grid.

    • #20
    • September 15, 2019, at 10:06 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Are you saying that those people who have solar are not paying their fair share of the Power Utilities sunk cost of power generation?

    Correct, and it is not even close. In fact, every bit of solar and wind capacity connected requires building more power plants that have better throttle ranges. Because the existing generation is being crushed by the swings. In other words, people installing solar on the grid are creating even more cost for everyone else.

    If California wants reliable, cheap power, that doesn’t endanger the vulnerable forests, it needs to build more conventional generation as close to its cities as possible. Power lines across rural areas will always be an ignition source for forest fires. Especially the way California pulls huge loads from its eastern neighbors. Heavily loaded power lines are scorching hot, and sag (stretch) over time. Overloaded power lines sag quickly or even melt.

    • #21
    • September 15, 2019, at 10:16 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    The problem with wind and solar is that it cannot be throttled to match the consumers. Solar peaks at local true noon. And drops like a rock with even a few clouds. The “best” consumer of solar power is air conditioning (sun ==> hot), but air conditioning power consumption peaks in mid to late afternoon. The grid doesn’t store energy, remember? So at noon, lots of conventional generation has to shut down while the solar generation peaks. Then, a few hours later, the conventional generation has to spin back up because the solar gen has died when everyone is getting home and cranking the AC. A good discussion of this phenomenon (the “duck” curve, sometimes called a “bathtub” curve) can be found on JoNova’s site:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2018/06/solar-overload-costs-a-fortune-as-the-super-duck-curve-flood-of-electricity-hits-australia/

    Would I be right in thinking that even if you weren’t ‘putting power into the grid’ with your solar, and were using it for yourself, you would still be taxing the transformers by suddenly switching over to the grid when your solar quit putting out the power you needed? 

    • #22
    • September 15, 2019, at 10:42 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    TBA (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    The problem with wind and solar is that it cannot be throttled to match the consumers. Solar peaks at local true noon. And drops like a rock with even a few clouds. The “best” consumer of solar power is air conditioning (sun ==> hot), but air conditioning power consumption peaks in mid to late afternoon. The grid doesn’t store energy, remember? So at noon, lots of conventional generation has to shut down while the solar generation peaks. Then, a few hours later, the conventional generation has to spin back up because the solar gen has died when everyone is getting home and cranking the AC. A good discussion of this phenomenon (the “duck” curve, sometimes called a “bathtub” curve) can be found on JoNova’s site:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2018/06/solar-overload-costs-a-fortune-as-the-super-duck-curve-flood-of-electricity-hits-australia/

    Would I be right in thinking that even if you weren’t ‘putting power into the grid’ with your solar, and were using it for yourself, you would still be taxing the transformers by suddenly switching over to the grid when your solar quit putting out the power you needed?

    Yes, the negative effects are present even if the solar sites are too small to actually have a net backfeed into the grid. Just load variation on the grid due to solar coming and going. (And it isn’t the transformers that are taxed by the load — they’re rather robust. It’s the generating plants and the long power lines.) That’s why I’d like to see a ban on grid connections of solar and wind. (I’m not holding my breath, of course.)

    • #23
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:41 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Remember I said the energy content was the cheapest part of bulk (conventional) generation? Guess what the most expensive part is? Throttle adjustments above or below optimum load. The severity of the $$ penalty varies with fuel type (nuke, coal, oil, natural gas), but all suffer. (Natural gas is least affected, which is why it is preferred as “swing” load.) Keep in mind that cloudy, calm conditions aren’t that unusual, so conventional generation has to be able to carry the worst case peak load, or you get brown-outs. But if you build them so that peak load is efficient, solar and wind will constantly push them below that best efficiency throttle point. If you fail to build them, those generators will be regularly pushed not just beyond their best throttle point, but into ruinous mechanical wear.

    But batteries!!! yells the greeny. As pointed out recently, a complete year’s worth of battery production from the biggest and most efficient battery factory on the planet, gives you mere seconds of storage at the scale of actual grid power generation and consumption. Using batteries to even shift solar gen/load from noon to late afternoon (a few hours) is technologically out of reach. Shifting gen at noon to load in the wee hours of the following morning is pure fantasy. Batteries aren’t the answer, at least not at this moment in history. In my not so humble opinion (BSEE), batteries (chemical energy storage) won’t ever approach the capacity of fuels (also chemical energy storage) because fuels need little or no structure to contain them. Batteries have only a small fraction of their mass actually involved in the chemical energy exchange.

    Connecting solar and wind to the grid is really, really, really bad for the grid.

    Very good explanation. And then in some places laws mandate that investor owned utilities just accept this stuff.

    • #24
    • September 16, 2019, at 1:39 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. David Foster Member

    Re energy storage: I’ve observed that very few journalists…including business journalists…understand the difference between a Kilowatt and a Kilowatt-Hour. Describing the storage capacity of a battery array (or other type of storage facility) in Kilowatts (or Megawatts) is like specifying the capacity of your car’s gas tank in horsepower.

     

    • #25
    • September 16, 2019, at 1:58 PM PDT
    • 4 likes