March 12th, 2007

Ann Vole

Electrical grid shorts out the alternate energy sector

(Cross posted)

someone on a different forum wrote:
So, lets begin with the status of the renewable fuels in the US according to the government plans:

website linked above wrote:
In some cases, they require technological innovation to become cost effective or have inherent characteristics, such as intermittency, which make their penetration into the electricity grid dependent upon new methods for integration within utility system plans or upon the availability of low-cost energy storage systems.

The whole electrical grid is the key problem with alternative energy "integration" into society. If the government were to promote anything that would cause the demise of the current energy providing companies, those companies would sue and otherwise make it very uncomfortable for the government people. Everything has to be done (in the government's perspective) to have people remain customers of the electrical grid. Now imagine if everyone had solar panels adding to the grid in the day... they would have to do something to store all that energy and at night they would still have the same high loads that the grid has to be designed for... as far as the electrical grid is concerned, this is not a solution for their high cost of sizing the system for the worst case situation (where they must not max out and have a black-out when people need power the most). Geothermal heat pumps, efficient lighting, and good insulation and air tightness are the only three solutions that are really doable as far as the electrical grid is concerned as they all reduce peak demands without losing customers. Even "net-zero energy" house design (use a heat pump and energy efficient appliances then cover the roof with photo-voltaics to add to the grid when it is sunny) is a problem due to the storage issue if everyone went that route. There are perfectly good storage options on people's own property which are being actively kept secret by the powers that be so they do not have to reveal how they are slaves of the grid power companies instead of the voting public. I have found out first hand how some people in the government side of the alternative energy research are being very selective on which technologies to support and which ones should be prevented with various laws like building codes.

website linked above again wrote:
minor renewable energy applications occurring outside energy markets, such as direct solar thermal industrial applications or direct lighting, off-grid electricity generation, and heat from geothermal resources used directly (e.g., district heating and greenhouses) are not included in the projections.

Again they are excluding the best options. A properly designed "passive solar" system can eliminate heating and cooling energy needs for a majority of homes from the equator to the arctic circle. The rest of the homes can have heating and cooling needs satisfied with annual heat storage methods that do not even need solar input if designed right and should work everywhere (even been demonstrated effective north of the Arctic circle with passive solar elements added).

Up here in Saskatchewan, we are one of the only places left in North America that is not allowed to sell electricity back to the power grid. Federal law in the US forced all the states to comply and most of the provinces complied due to demand driving many rural grid customers to go independently powered (and thus are never again a potential customer... can't have that!) so "net-zero energy" houses are not an option for me to build... I am choosing to try to go all the way and be a true zero-energy building designer where connection to the electrical grid and to other utilities is not needed. I have figured out "work-arounds" for most of the building code special provisions that have been added in this province which I believe are mostly to give off-gridders a hard time.

For funding, I am thinking I will be working the international aid angle of things to design buildings for the far north and for remote mountainous areas where grid power is not an option and bringing fuel in to generate electricity is not cost effective or affordable. They do not need to know that I will try to sell the educational materials to everyone once they are made (wink wink)