This attempt at a post is prompted by the inescapable fact that:

Electricity is the most perishable commodity that exists.

OK
We all want a stable and secure supply of El.
Of course we want it as cheaply as reasonably possible.

And we’re all together so roughly agreeing that we must do our utmost to reduce or preferably eliminate our pollution with CO2 and of course other polution.
We can also agree that there are two, almost independent challenges:

  • The instability of supply and demand.
  • How should the supply be established

Maybe we crazy around at each other because we out of bad habit mix those two things together.
Let’s try to look at instability – There is in reality a lot of consensus.
Problems relating to transport comes so almost all alone.
Problems associated with, thankfully extremely rare, sudden onset, with almost catastrophic, outcomes (with the risk of domino effect) is not discussed the following.

Instability in supply and demand.

No matter which system you choose, we must in some way or another act to maintain a stable supply.
This will not be that easy when, in the future it is desired to reduce our CO2 emissions, also from heating, by changing to the use of electricity, of course, in conjunction with heat pumps.
In addition, the goal is that our supply of electricity mainly to be based on sun and wind, which of course is not stable.

In the old days, with coal-fired power plants and the like, it was not so difficult to handle.
But it is no good continuing with our pollution.
Coal, oil, and much else must of course be eliminated.
As a result of the future, very vulnerable system – without all that much CO2 – we are slowly approaching to a situation where we say:
—————— “All hands to the pumps.”
There are many solutions, each of which will be totally inadequate, but in association has been found to work. But of course, can be done better.

We have at least the following “handles to turn on”:

  • International exchange.
  • Reserve Capacity, to be used when necessary.
  • No political limitations on the right to produce El.
  • Flexible pricing.
  • Open Prices: Everyone can see what is best here and now.

The last three are now being called ‘Smart Grit’, but is certainly neither smart or effective before it is implemented.
A Smart Grit can hardly be effective unless the many existing distorting arrangements are settled.

It will be difficult

We have to abandon old stereotypes.
Here we might disagree: Competition or top-down?
OK
One can well. Some 30 years ago it was technically possible to make what we spend so much time speaking so much about, but still will not do – not fully and completely:

Approximately following was outlined:

  • The supply system, it is often called the grid, will at any time set the current price (spot price) for the El traded. (Not only by international trade)
  • Prices vary stepwise by a factor of 1.20 or “20% up or down” for each step (Small enough to avoid sudden ‘shock in the net’)
  • Some prices are very low. Nearly: ‘Just give it away’.
    (Used by overproduction)
  • At other times, prices can be very high.
    (Used only in the case of near disaster)
  • Anyone can buy and sell without political constraints.
  • The network buys El for 80% of what it is to sell.
    (There should be something to cover costs – both maintenance and improvements)
  • Private suppliers and consumers can always see the spot price for the El, and can of course use automatics that exploit variations in the price.
  • The network guarantees, within wide limit,s how much time, on average, the spot prices will be of different levels.
    (Consumers and producers must be able to plan – Partially)
  • The weather forecast disclose the expected price of El

Then, the human ingenuity and resourcefulness will determine what might be done.
Of course everything will be considered on an economic weight that will hatch all the weeds from.

A little more today

Today you’d probably have added:

  • The tax for pollution should be imposed on polluters compared to how much CO2 and other is discharged.
    Thus, for example, coal with CCS (Carbon Capture Storage) could gain a competitive advantage if this ‘Storage’ can be said to be persistent.
    If policymakers want to be “More Green”, it will ‘just’ be enough to increase this tax.
  • As long as the quota system is maintained, quotas for CO2 should not be distributed as a kind of gift to the old established polluters, who ‘smart enough’ can sell and obtain profits based upon old sins.
    Quotas should be purchased on completely equal terms, in a sort of a CO2-pool. (Ideally internationally)
  • Political favoritism of special productions should be abandoned as swiftly as possible. (Existing contracts must obviously be respected)
  • Taxes distributed fairly equally.
    Not per kWh but compared to net payment.
    (Without political favoritism of specific forms of production but favoring the conscious consumer.)
  • Distortion from the old rules should be settled – Not too slowly.
  • International competition is presumably to be countered by offsets, which must not get out of hand.
  • Grants for experimentation and creation of new forms of supply must be limited and must under no circumstances degenerate into an almost permanent pillow for inefficiency.
  • Keep the discussion away from discussing electric vehicles, wind and sun versus nuclear, wave energy, biomass and everything else.
    This is certainly not irrelevant to the discussion. But it should not destroy a meaningful dialogue on this matter.
  • The political situation will determine if ‘society’ or ‘net’ should continue to maintain extra back-up-capacity.

And what can be supposed to be a triviality:

  • Equal conditions for different power sources.
  • No political emphasized taxes. As where Germany and Sweden have special taxes on nuclear power.
  • No politically motivated closure of power plants.
  • Long and irrevocable agreements that enable long-term contracts and predictable private investment.

The human and political inertia has been great and it is perhaps even more.

Cogeneration and Heat Pump

At a very early stage Denmark took the lead and developed the world’s most efficient combined heat and power, so that the waste heat from the many voracious power plants did not go to waste.

And now some 60% of Danish households are equipped with various types of district heating. This figure is on the rise.

But there are indications that the development is overtaking this solution.
Today, heat pumps are so efficient that, without political favoritism, it will be a serious competitor to the district heating.
One major reason for this is that it is much easier to distribute electricity in the wires than heat pipes.
By pure electricity (without heating) it is now possible to ‘squise the last kW out of fuel’ when electricity is generated by combustion in thermal plants. (You can get about 10% more).
But at the same time the waste heat will not be in the form of the nearly 100 degree hot water, which is now used for district heating. Instead, you just get some ‘warm water’ that is not suitable for the old district heating, but still can be used as a heat source for heat pumps, for fish farms or horticulture.
As development progresses, until the old district heating pipe is worn, it will certainly be sensible so that use electricity for heat pumps with what is shown enough will call ‘cold district heating’.

Too much of the good is bad

The above considerations are basically valid as long as the varying and partly unpredictable power from solar and wind sticks to mere bagatelle and do not exceed five, maybe 10% of the load.

German solar variation From the US sunshine states we have the expression “the Duck Curve”.
First we see how the large percentage of new solar power have destroyed the original good profits in 2012.
Then one asks:
Who provides backup in the early hours of the night?
Finally we see, what we already knew, that in the US pricing is (partially) governed by market forces.

In Germany, which mainly focuses on solar energy (PV), the situation is most a future challenge.
BUT with the desired phase out coal and nuclear power would appear to be impossible to maintain the supply.
Germany has reached “The Bureaucracy Monster”:
From Der Spiegel October 2013 quoted:
“And let’s not forget that the German bureaucrats to have come up with more than 4,000 different subsidy categories for renewable energy, apparently adhering til principle att what is particular expensive kill two be lavishly subsidized.”

All beginnings are difficult

It would be naive to think that the ‘smart grid’ just emidiately can change consumption pattern, the ‘ordinary people’.

It will take time and even political courage.
Politicians and officials must free themselves from the last level economic conventional thinking.
Manufacturers must develop automation for management, effective gauges and much more.
BUT
Let’s get started.
What the hell are we waiting for?

Yours Thorkil Søe
thorkilsoee@gmail.com

Postscript

There are apparently something about to happen: On the island Bornholm a pilot project is underway.
Although little is better than nothing, it has unfortunately been found that it does not become neither fish nor fowl before all manufacturers of EL are subject to market conditions.

The later development

Despite all good intensions, developments strongly suggests that the European energy system is in the process of working itself into a dead end.
I have tried to gather some of the many data and information in a different post.
Unfortunately, it will be difficult to achieve a free market for electricity and heat without making up with decades of opposition to nuclear (nuclear power) and a systematic demonization.

Hostile action

One possible unresolved challenge can be the destruction of the system by means of false signals transmitted in the intention to attack the infrastructure. (Cyberattack)
If this is to be counteracted, it will probably be necessary to exclude immediate major changes in tariffs and thus could not relieve the system by any outcome of larger units.

Thank you

Thanks to Søren Fosberg for words of encouragement and suggestions for changes.
And to Sören Kjärsgaard for his extreemely good work.

http://www.theenergycollective.com/aqgilbert/2382456/solar-to-wreck-economics-of-existing-power-markets

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