The battery gap

I explained to a friend this week my concept of “battery gap”.

He thinks batteries will not “be enough”, are “too far away” and “too expensive” for grid energy storage… Well, we’ve heard that old story before.

We heard that old belief that solar energy would never be competitive or only represent a small portion of energy generation, right? Or the one that grids had an inherent limit for absorbing renewable power (yes, some people once said it was 15%) Or that to reach a high degree of renewable penetration, the land use would not leave space to grow food… And such.

Well, the DOE has published an update on the accelerated escalation of LEDs, wind, solar, EVs and batteries. The graphs and the facts are impressive.

The difference in price for renewable energy Vs conventional grows quickly. So there is growing “space” to pay for energy storage. We could represent as follows: Sigue leyendo

If nuclear was cheaper…

If nuclear power was cheaper,

we could obviate the fact that it leads to a centralized power generation model instead of a more valuable democratized power generation.

If nuclear power was cheaper,

we could neglect the fact that it leads to an unflexible power generation model instead of a flexible, adaptive and future-proof system.

If nuclear power was cheaper,

we could try to neglect the risks that this source of energy entails.

If nuclear power was cheaper now,

we could try to neglect the fact that it takes very long to build and that cost overruns and delays are very common (just read about the Olkiluoto story).

If nuclear power was cheaper now,

we could try to neglect the fact that the energy situation changes faster every day so it would no longer be cheap compared to other sources when it sells it’s first kWh after a decade (if you are lucky) of construction…

nuclear-power-plant-1314782 stop

No need to ban them, really. (Image by Nathaniel Dodson on freeimages.com)

However… Sigue leyendo

Capacity first?

…then Reliability, then Efficiency?

Developing an electrical network is a question of priorities. As is developing anything I guess… Which priorities do you think are most important?

You probably agree that the first step in building an electrical system is bringing access to electricity to most of the population, right?

Capacity to efficiency

This might seem solved, but in reality, access to electricity is still far from being universal. Still 1,2 billion people don’t have access to electricity. It’s in fact part of sustainable development goal 7, and, actually, the road to SDG7 is the road to Energythaca.

While building additional lines and power generation units to solve access to electricity, the values of reliability and efficiency are normally not on the top of mind for system planning. What if access to electricity is provided by renewable microgrids, would values like reliability and energy efficiency be achieved at the same time? Sigue leyendo

Technocratic paradigm and Smart Cities

If you are interested in Smart City technologies and experiences, I strongly recommend the following report from Nesta:

Rethinking Smart Cities From The Ground Up

The proposal is similar to how I suggest to build the Smart Grid: Do it bottom-up, empowering the consumer/citizen. In this case, the report justifies that the highest return is on collaborative technologies that allow the citizens to participate and shape the future of their cities.

citizen-1562276

Citizens. Image by Murat Cokal on freeimages.com

As is widely mentioned, there is no smart city without smart citizens. Just like there is no smart grid without a smart consumer. Thus, investing in smart people is absolutely necessary for Sigue leyendo

Cómo llamamos al “Energiewende” español?

Recientemente podíamos leer un artículo con un buen resumen del llamado “Energiewende” aleman en National Geografic (con excelentes fotos, como siempre) que recomiendo:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/11/climate-change/germany-renewable-energy-revolution-text

Por ejemplo, incluye cómo surgió el nombre del movimiento, y recuerda el también famoso concepto “Waldsterben”, que también tuvo mucho poder movilizador.

El marketing de la estrategia, para la involucración de la gente en una iniciativa tan ambiciosa es fundamental. Por eso pienso que ponerle un nombre atractivo es importante.

En Francia se habla de la “Transition Energetique pour la croissance verte“, idea que incluye transición y crecimiento, ambos conceptos positivos.

Qué nombre le ponemos?

Source: Freeimages by Nick Normann, http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/daitenshi6-63284

Fuente: Freeimages por Nick Normann, http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/daitenshi6-63284

Aquí en España… Sigue leyendo

The grid as an emergency supply?

It’s official. Finally Spain has the most toll-intensive consumer power generation (what is called self-consumption) law in the world. The so-called “sun tax” is in place.

It is important to understand the worries of the regulator here;

Given the high fixed costs of the system, further reductions of electricity demand (as with self-consumption) increase the price of energy in a Grid independence cycle. The goal of increasing the toll on self-consumption is to ensure the system costs are covered, delay the implementation of self-consumption (starting in the islands and small systems), delay consumer energy storage (in fact it is also a “battery tax”) and (try to) avoid further political problems. Of course, it is not the best solution, academics and regulatory experts agree that politically fixed costs that have to be paid by all citizens shouldn’t be in the tariff but evenly paid from the nation’s bugdet (like the extra-costs for electricity in the islands).

Image by Cancia Leirissa on freeimages.com

“Grid Emergency Exit”                                                       Image by Cancia Leirissa on freeimages.com

What are the consequences? Rising prices, and the fact that fixed costs (for the contracted power) are surging, push the active consumer to look for the following solutions:

Sigue leyendo

Why I supported GravityLight (twice)

The concept of the GravityLight is simple and yet very innovative. It consists in a light powered by gravity, it is charged by lifting a weight and letting its descent run the generator and the light.

Of course, it is only possible now thanks to the LED lights and other efficiency gains. With old light bulbs, the duration of the same concept would be ridicule, but now, a simple lift of 2-3 seconds can provide for almost 30 minutes of light.

Gravity Light Image from Wikimedia Commons

The running costs are null, and compared to the alternative of kerosene lamps, the impact is enormous in reducing costs, environmental impact, as well as reducing fire risks and negative consequences of smoke on the health of the users….

Sigue leyendo