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A Rational Look at Renewable Energy and the Implications of Intermittent Power


By Kimball Rasmussen | President and CEO, Deseret Power | November 2010
With Acknowledgement to: John Droz at the Alliance for Wise Energy: http://www.wiseenergy.org/

“Wind energy has a highly intermittent output that significantly mismatches demand and delivers energy largely when it is less needed. Wind cannot satisfy the demand requirements of a utility unless it is backed up with fossil fuel plants and/or energy storage projects. This results in duplication of resources and additional costs, with little, if any, carbon mitigation. Further, the steep increases and declines in power delivery of wind put the reliability of the grid in question. The tactic of switching off excess wind supply only diminishes the already weak pattern of intermittency and adds to the per kWh cost of wind. Typically, wind resources are located far away from where the power is needed and require significant additional costs of building new transmission. Intermittency, duplication and grid operations all significantly increase the already high cost of wind energy.

“Wind becomes even more questionable when proven solutions like natural gas can deliver even greater reductions in emissions at half the cost.

“While solar power is much more grid friendly than wind, it is generally the most expensive form of renewable energy. Solar energy quasi-matches system peak load periods, but the peak solar output significantly misses actual electric system load peaks. In addition, solar facilities still produce only about 18 to 25 percent of the time. Without electricity storage, solar energy will not be able to do more than serve as a supplement to other forms of energy. It is not currently a full-scale alternative to baseload energy.

“A Renewable Portfolio Standard, or mandate of 20 percent, can result in a utility-scale duplication of net investment in generating plant of 100 percent or more. The mandate can also cause the wide variation of rate impacts, depending on availability of renewable energy projects and other utility specific parameters.”

Full detailed report: http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/rational-look-at-renewable-energy.pdf [PDF, 3.5MB]

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