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

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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.

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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

Bono social y pobreza energética

El pasado domingo 13 de diciembre el programa Salvados #encasadeElisa estuvo dedicado a la pobreza energética.

Por qué es este tema relevante?

Es un problema que ha crecido un 69% en España en los últimos 4 años según el INE, aunque el Ministro de Industria no estaba enterado. Para Jose Manuel Soria, además parece que la única manera de combatirla, junto con reducir el paro, es el bono social. Como escribió Fernando Ferrando sobre el mismo tema, quien no puede pagar, aunque le hagan un 25% de descuento, sigue sin poder. Además, aunque el consumo energético eléctrico es mucho menor que el consumo de gasolina y representa una parte pequeña del consumo familiar (como planteaba en mi post sobre electrificar el transporte) no es el caso de las personas en situación de pobreza energética. Para ellos, obviamente supone una parte mucho más importante, compitiendo con la comida por el dinero disponible.

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Calefactor eléctrico. Imagen de Gabriel Fernandes en freeimages.com

 

A pesar de reconocer que el bono social está mal planteado, el (hasta dentro de poco) ministro de industria no mostró ninguna intención de mejorarlo. En el mismo programa, al menos el ex-ministro Sebastián planteó la opción de que un consumo mínimo debería ser gratuito, puesto que la energía es un bien de primera necesidad.

Cómo se podría modificar el bono social y la tarifa eléctrica?

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Asset utilization Vs Energy transition

Collaborative economy, also called the sharing economy, is growing, and it can be understood as a synonym for resource efficiency and increased asset utilization. It also allows the energy transition. How? An example; car sharing, offers increased asset utilization of the vehicles and fosters the energy transition with more sustainable mobility.

In the energy sector, and in the case of utilities, this is not very common, but let’s try to look at some trends;

For example, grid interconnections, as proposed with the EU Energy Union policy, is part of a more collaborative economy. It means the sharing of power capacity and available renewable resources in an extended market. Of course it is not peer-to-peer, but instead “grid-to-grid”. Interconnections improve asset utilization (of the most competitive assets at least, as well as avoiding investments in peaking capacity) and also help toward the energy transition as abundant renewable power can be exchanged between countries.

Image by Gabriel Schouten de Jel

Image by Gabriel Schouten de Jel on freeimages.com

For Spain, with high generation overcapacity, to increase interconnections is key to making use of existing power capacity and avoiding wind spilling, for example.

However, there is another example of improved asset utilization where there is a conflict with the energy transition…

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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:

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