Tag Archives: 100% renewables

Electricity and energy in the G20

While governments fixate on cutting emissions from the electricity sector, the larger problem of cutting emissions from the non-electricity sector is generally ignored. In this post I present data from the G20 countries, which between them consume 80% of the world’s energy, summarizing the present situation. The results show that the G20 countries obtain only 41.5% of their total energy from electricity and the remaining 58.5% dominantly from oil, coal and gas consumed in the non-electric sector (transportation, industrial processes, heating etc). So even if they eventually succeed in obtaining all their electricity from low-carbon sources they would still be getting more than half their energy from high-carbon sources if no progress is made in decarbonizing their non-electric sectors. Continue reading

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El Hierro August 2016 performance update

During August the hybrid wind-hydro Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant achieved 55.6% renewables generation, higher than the 47.9% achieved in August 2015 but lower than the 65.9% achieved in July. The decrease relative to July was a caused by wind lulls and the increase relative to 2015 was a result of two periods of 100% renewables generation totalling 79 hours. Total renewables generation since full operations began at GdV in June 2015 is now 38.7%, up from 37.8% at the beginning of the month. Continue reading

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The Holy Grail of Battery Storage

A recent Telegraph article claims that storage battery technology is now advancing so fast that “we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point” and that the “Holy Grail of energy policy” – a storage battery cost of $100/kWh – will be reached in “relatively short order”. This brief post shines the cold light of reality on these claims by calculating battery storage costs based on the storage requirements for specific cases estimated in previous Energy Matters posts. Continue reading

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El Hierro July 2016 performance update

During July the hybrid wind-hydro Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant set a new record of 65.9% renewable energy delivered to the El Hierro grid, handily exceeding the previous record of 53.9% achieved in June. This was dominantly a result of a continuation of the sustained northerly winds that began in mid-June. Continue reading

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The Eigg renewables project revisited

Among the claimants for the title of “world leader” in renewables development in remote areas the island of Eigg (population 90) off the west coast of Scotland, which since 2008 has been obtaining over 80% of its electricity from a custom-designed hybrid system, probably has the best claim. This post reviews operating data that have become available since I posted Eigg, a model for a sustainable energy future in September 2014. It concludes a) that while the project has delivered good results it is inefficient (overall capacity factor 11%), b) that Eigg will probably never be able to do away entirely with diesel backup and c) that the project owes its existence to the fact that 94% of the capital cost was financed by grants. It is economically unviable on a stand-alone basis. Continue reading

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El Hierro completes a year of full operation

At the end of June the Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant completed its first year of full operation, during which it supplied 34.6% of El Hierro’s electricity demand with renewable electricity at a cost probably exceeding €1.00/kWh while lowering the island’s CO2 emissions by approximately 12,000 tons at a cost of around €1,000/ton. This post summarizes these unexpectedly poor results, discusses the reasons for them and concludes that GdV, which was intended to show the world how fossil fuel generation can readily be replaced with intermittent renewables, can already be classified as a “failed project”. Continue reading

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El Hierro May 2016 update

During May Gorona del Viento (GdV), a “hybrid” wind-hydro plant designed ultimately to provide the Canary Island of El Hierro with 100% renewable energy, provided only 25.4% renewable electricity to the El Hierro grid, thereby lowering the average renewables fraction since project startup last June to 32.8%. This was a result of a change in operating procedures that resulted in even lower renewables generation than usual and which is documented in this post. (Details on GdV plant layout, operation and capacities are given in the September update. Previous posts on GdV are accessible through the El Hierro Portal.) Continue reading

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Blowout Week 127

Global temperatures falling, two Illinois nuclear plants to close, UK solar house-holds to pay insurance for grid access, more threats from Niger Delta Avengers, gas guzzler sales rise, first oil shipment from Yamal, Merkel puts brakes on the Energiewende, fule shortages in France, UK to reconsider coal shutdown, more islands seek 100% renewables, a brighter future for North Sea oil, microbe energy storage, Brexit, US-Russia nuclear cooperation, the Fukushima “ice wall” and why the world isn’t going to meet the 2˚C warming goal. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 126

This weeks’ stories include Brexit and investment in renewables, oil discoveries at their lowest level since 1952, Saudi strategy paying off, nuclear in Egypt and South Africa, coal in Japan, Nigeria on the brink of collapse, nuclear workers strike in France, oil breaks $50/bbl, yet another setback for Hinkley Point, the EC to lend Spain 2.13 billion to shut down coal plants, the EIB forks out 525 million for the Beatrice wind farm, energy independence for Israel, G7 nations to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, Australia opts out of latest UN climate change report, goodbye El Niño and hello La Niña, the CERN cloud experiment casts doubt on global warming predictions, the “internet of things” and how climate change is poisoning our food. Continue reading

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Did Portugal run for four days on renewables alone?

Recently there has been much rejoicing in the green media that the entire country of Portugal succeeded in powering itself with 100% renewables for four straight days from May 7 through May 10, 2016. Here we look into the question of whether this is true (it is) and second the question of what caused it (the weather). Over the period in question Portugal was able to make maximum use of its hydro and wind capacity because of unusually heavy rains (inset) and strong winds, a combination of renewables-favorable weather conditions that has been described as “fantastic”, although the tourism industry may take a different view. Continue reading

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Blowout week 125

Fire at Ivanpah Concentrated Solar Plant in California, Trump to renegotiate Paris climate deal if elected, Portugal runs on renewables for 4 days, the Saudi bond issue, Anglesey nuclear plant moves ahead, EU plan causes nuclear uproar in Germany, Japan lagging in divesting coal, South Australia running on renewables, Tory MPs favor Swansea Bay tidal, Nigerian militants control the global oil market, a cabinet shuffle in Scotland, Portland, Oregon bans “climate change denial” books in schools, possible blackouts in Southern California, Google’s human flypaper and Pakistan digs mass graves for anticipated future climate change victims. Continue reading

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El Hierro – a change in operating procedures

The Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant on the Canary Island of El Hierro is a flagship project designed ultimately to provide the island with 100% renewable electricity and to demonstrate that hybrid wind/pumped hydro systems can be used to generate 100% renewable electricity in other parts of the world. This short post documents a change in operating procedures at Gorona del Viento (GdV) that occurred shortly after 7am on May 16th (yesterday as I write). Continue reading

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Blowout Week 121

This week more on OPEC and oil, Russia and Norway struggle to preserve gas market share, China’s floating nuclear plants, Poland’s new wind law, Germany tells Begium to shut down nuclear plants, electronics from coal, there is no Obama “war on coal”, 100% renewables for Australia and for Europe too via the MENA supergrid, SNP wants 50% renewables by 2020, UK shale oil ready to boom, Hinkley delayed yet again, objections to Drax subsidies, the Times says the wrong things about climate change and Subsidy Sam – the answer to Tommy Turbine. Continue reading

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A preliminary reservoir balance calculation for El Hierro.

Roger Andrews and the El Hierro team continue their detective work trying to work out what is going on at the Gorona del Viento 100% renewables project on El Hierro, Canary Islands. Published results show the scheme is significantly under performing. This post analyses photographs of water level in the upper and lower reservoirs, taken by Rainer, our man on El Hierro. The conclusion points to the reservoirs containing 15 to 20% of the water they were designed to hold. It appears something is wrong. Continue reading

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One Step Closer to Blackouts

On Thursday 24th March, Longannet Power Station in Scotland closed down. This post examines the policy and politics that led to this event and goes on to consider the social and economic consequences of a nation-wide blackout that power engineers now believe is far more likely than before. Continue reading

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El Hierro – and the water goes round and round ……

Roger Andrews tries to make sense of the pumped hydro component of the 100% renewable plant operated by GdV on El Hierro, Spain. His conclusion is that the upper reservoir has fallen out of use, evidently confirmed by photographs from Rainer, our man on El Hierro. It appears that surplus wind energy is simply used to pump water up the hill and to then let it run down again. Continue reading

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How to make El Hierro 100% renewable

Euan suggested that I explore other renewable options for El Hierro to see how they compare with the wind, pumped hydro and diesel option of the existing Gorona del Viento (GdV) complex that cost an estimated €82 million to install. GdV has so far delivered 32% renewables, well short of the 100% that is widely publicised. It is found that a solar photo voltaic (PV) + diurnal storage system could deliver close to 100% but with a price tag of €150 to 200 million. Concentrated solar power (CSP) switches off completely when it is cloudy and is not viable without 100% backup. El Hierro is an active volcanic island sitting on top of a magma (molten rock) chamber. Geothermal could most likely provide a reliable 365day/24hour electricity supply without storage for a fraction of the wind or solar costs, but appears to have never been explored. Continue reading

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El Hierro, January/February 2016 update:

The Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant on the Canary Island of El Hierro is a flagship project designed ultimately to provide the island with 100% renewable electricity. The low-wind conditions that dominated during the last four months of 2015 continued into January 2016, leading to only 22% renewables generation in that month. Much of February, however, was characterized by strong winds, and combined with the 100% renewables tests that were performed this resulted in renewable energy supplying 54% of El Hierro’s grid demand in that month, exceeding the 52% achieved in June/July 2015. Continue reading

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El Hierro – now up to 41 hours of 100% renewables generation

The El Hierro GdV project produced 100% renewables generation between 1 am on February 14 and 17.40 on February 15. But still enough to eclipse the 33 hours of 100% renewables generation achieved at King Island, Tasmania, last November. So congratulations to the GdV project staff. Continue reading

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El Hierro – 16 hours of 100% renewables generation

Between 0540 and 2140 hours on January 31 2016 the Gorona del Viento (GdV) wind-hydro plant supplied the island of El Hierro with 100% of its electricity from renewables. This short post provides plots of the REE grid data for that day and adds a few observations. Continue reading

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