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Integrating Renewable Electricity on the Grid report urges for solutions regarding energy storage, long-distance transmission and forecasting

The American Physical Society's Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) has released a report which offers suggestions on what is needed to both establish a national renewable electricity standard as well as merge the divided U.S. grid system. 

The report, Integrating Renewable Electricity on the Grid, provides several recommendations for setting a national renewable electricity standard and linking the fragmented U.S. grid system in an effort to move forward with a broader use of solar and wind power. 

In the report, the POPA suggested that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) should focus on energy storage, since the wind may not always blow and the sun may not always shine. If there is a shortage of electricity to a household, this could hinder their way of life for an uncertain period of time. The development of a strategy for energy storage in grid-level applications would show regulators the benefits that storing energy brings to generation and transmission services on the grid. The POPA also recommends increasing research and development in basic electrochemistry as a way of choosing materials that could be used in the storage devices. In addition, a review of the technological potential of battery chemistries should be conducted to see if they could be applied to grid storage and energy.

"We need to move faster to have storage ready to accommodate, for example, 20 percent of renewable electricity on the grid by 2020," said George Crabtree, co-chairman of the POPA study panel and a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. "And, by devoting the necessary resources to the problem, I am confident that we can solve it."

Long-distance transmission is another problem facing the grid. The long-distance transmission of electricity from areas that have plenty of wind and sun to areas that do not is a challenge the DOE must overcome. To do so, the POPA suggests accelerating research and development on wide band gap power electronics as a way of controlling power flow on the grid. Creating semiconductor-based circuit breakers at 200 kilovolts and 50 kilo amperes as well as alternating to direct current conversion options could aid in controlling this power flow. Also, the POPA noted that extending the Office of Electricity program on High Temperature Superconductivity for 10 years while concentrating on the direct current superconducting cables for transmission would assist in insuring long-distance transmission.

What makes this report different from many other grid studies is that its recommendations provide scientific and business perspectives. On the business side of things, the POPA urges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to first develop an "integrated business case" that covers the value of electricity storage and renewable generation as far as transmission and distribution goes. Then, adopt a "uniform integrated business case" that serves as the final evaluation and regulatory structure along with the state Public Utility Commissions. 

Forecasting is the final category of recommendation the POPA addresses, suggesting that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Weather Service and private vendors change time scales from hours to days in order to improve the accuracy of wind and weather forecasts. Also, wind plant operators, regulatory agencies and forecast providers should create uniform standards for both preparing and delivering power and wind generation forecasts. Regulatory agencies and Wind plant operators were also urged to create operating procedures to reply to power generation forecasts, develop criteria for contingencies and response to weather disturbances, and design response other than using conventional reserve, such as electricity storage and distant transmission. 

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RE: Argh
By texbrazos on 11/17/2010 2:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
The new Tessera plant in Calif. cost 2 billion and will power around 500,000 homes. The Commanche Peak Nuclear Plant cost 15 Billion and suppies 1.5 million. Do the math.
If you built 10 billion worth of these Tessera Solar plants, you would power 2.5 million people and still be cheaper than a nuke plant, plus it is cleaner than nuke.

RE: Argh
By kattanna on 11/17/2010 3:33:11 PM , Rating: 5
The new Tessera plant in Calif. cost 2 billion and will power around 500,000 homes

its actually..

Tessera's Calico plant will cost more than $2 billion and will power 200,000 to 500,000 homes

off course the key caveat is missing here


you simply cannot compare solar that can only produce power during the peak part of the day to a baseload nuclear plant.

though, i am very glad to see someone start deploying the concentrating solar to sterling engine method on a more massive scale. They actually have a chance of becoming viable peak load generation.

though imagine is this little nugget was applied to nuclear

If they start construction by December 31, the plants can qualify for a program that provides a 30 percent cash grant from the Treasury Department

RE: Argh
By Spuke on 11/17/2010 6:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
The new Tessera plant in Calif. cost 2 billion and will power around 500,000 homes.
How about YOU do the math. 1.5 million homes during the 5.7 hour peak (that's in the southwest) sunlight period or 1.5 million homes 24/7. Are you planning on not using any power in your home when the sun goes down?

RE: Argh
By rvd2008 on 11/17/2010 6:48:35 PM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power has certain advantages, just like wind or solar. Why should it be only one or the other? Why so much radicalism when it comes to renewables? There are plenty of places where renewables just make sense, don't you agree?

RE: Argh
By kattanna on 11/18/2010 10:49:56 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power has certain advantages, just like wind or solar

aye, very much so.

Why should it be only one or the other? Why so much radicalism when it comes to renewables?

its not the average joe that started it. its the ECOnut crowd that did. crying from the rooftops about replacing ALL energy generation with nothing but renewables, else the planet is DOOMED !!!

There are plenty of places where renewables just make sense, don't you agree?

yep. solar can make a good peak load generation. wind can be a small base load, yet its so variable as to pose issues for use like that.

hydro, geothermal, and wave all make great base load power as they are consistent.

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