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

Anuncios

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

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.

old-parabolic-electric-heater-1175580

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?

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

Partial/progressive off-grid, a proposal

I already commented on the self-consumtion regulation in draft in Spain, (basically a retroactive measure to stop any development). The reason behind is the excess of fixed system costs; with decreasing energy consumption, power and energy prices increase in a feedback loop. Blocking self-consumption is an attemp to avoid further grid energy consumption decrease.

Off-grid balance

As in other countries with similar fixed costs, decreasing demand pushes towards higher energy prices, and taxing self-consumption is seen as a regulatory solution. Apparently off-grid is becoming already a cheaper option. As it is not the best solution for the system as a whole, an intermediate solution could be the following: Sigue leyendo

Jornada AEEE – Jóvenes y no tan jóvenes del sector

Organiza: Sección de estudiantes y jóvenes de la AEEE y Enerclub

Fecha: 19/09/2013

Lugar: Club Español de la Energía

cabecera AEEE

Resultó una jornada muy entretenida, e interesante, por las diversas opiniones que se defendieron en las mesas redondas. Incluida una anecdótica intervención que recojo como insólita; Una persona, explicando la tendencia hacia mayores costes fijos en la factura, indicó a los asistentes que quizás “estamos yendo hacia un nuevo concepto de eficiencia energética, en la que un padre no le dice a su hijo que apague la luz para ahorrar sino que le dice; niño, enciende más luces” Desde luego un nuevo concepto, tan nuevo como contrario al significado de eficiencia energética…

Aparte de esta “genialidad”, quiero resaltar en mi blog la participación de Miguel Ángel Fernández-Ordoñez, que con claridad y autoridad defendió las bondades de la competencia y de la huida de la competencia, para acabar con los problemas actuales del sistema energético español. La regulación debe fomentar la competencia, para lograr una mayor eficiencia en el sistema y que ésta se traslade al consumidor. Esta regulación debe ser realizada por las personas con mayor cualificación y con independencia del poder político. Además, la política de “campeones nacionales” es ineficiente y según se ha demostrado, una política que defienda un mejor mercado hace empresas más competitivas y más grandes. Es decir, obtiene mejores resultados que la defensa de las grandes empresas. En concreto en el mercado eléctrico, la integración también equivale a competencia, es decir, un operador/planificador de infraestructuras de red único europeo y la ampliación de las inteconexiones.

No fueron estos los únicos comentarios relevantes, por eso tan pronto tenga el link a la transcripción, la colgaré en este post.

Building the Smart Grid bottom-up

I strongly support the democratization of energy, understood as the access to energy for all and the open participation of the people in the energy market, for example by generating energy for self-consumption or through energy cooperatives. (I already posted on this subject here)

I see energy independence is of less importance. Having energy inter-dependencies with other countries may be positive. As an example, electric grid interconnections, even if they meant energy dependence, are built for increased efficiency and optimized use of generation assets. Increasing the interconnection of France and Spain, would increase competition and efficiency, although it could lead to greater inter-dependence. How about islands interconnections? That makes them dependent on the mainland, but energy less costly, more reliable and allowing greater renewable penetration.

Democratization gives an additional momentum to any change, with this I mean, once some technology market is democratized, accessible to all, and each individual can invest in it, the speed of it’s implementation and development is exponential. An example that anyone can understand is the development of apps for mobile devices.

In the energy industry, the democratization of power generation is mainly due to solar power. Germany has built more than 30 GW of solar power plants, thanks to individuals and cooperatives, not concentrated by traditional big utilities and concentrated power plants, now more decentralized.

Ulm church bottom up (tallest church in the world, built by the citizens of Ulm), by Szeder László (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ulm church bottom up (tallest church in the world, built by the citizens of Ulm), by Szeder László (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On this subject I wrote an article for Energética s.XXI on their international publication July-August. Individuals not only can have important effects on the grid, they have also have the responsibility to act with sustainability and energy efficiency.

Smart grids have brought the prosumer, as part of a more democratized system where the consumer can also be a producer of energy and participate in the energy market. Building rehabilitation, making homes prosumer microgrids increases the efficiency, the reliability, the sustainability, the security of supply and is also has a very good return on investment. (An example I also wrote about is the V2H business case, part of these home microgrids)

A widespread implementation of smart homes as microgrids would build a smart grid, from the bottom up, from where the energy is consumed, but with effects on the whole grid and energy landscape.