Blending wind and solar meets peak energy demands

Aug 13, 2010
Blending wind and solar meets peak energy demands

In parts of Texas and California, a good match between renewable energy production and peak energy demands could be obtained by combining wind power with solar power, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist.

A better blending of solar and wind power, combined with a way to store excess , should increase the use of for California, Texas and the rest of the nation, according to a study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) agricultural engineer Brian Vick at the agency's Renewable Energy and Manure Management Research Unit in Bushland, Texas. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Vick discovered that in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas, as well as in northern and southern California, there is almost an exact mismatch between production and peak energy demands over a 24-hour period. In these locations, at the heights of modern , winds are lowest at mid-day, when power demands are greatest. In Texas, there is also a seasonal mismatch: The winds are weakest in the summer, when power demands are highest.

But the sun's rays are most intense at mid-day and in summer months.

Texas is the top state for wind-generated electricity production, with Iowa ranking second and California third. California is the leader in solar-generated electricity production.

The most efficient storage system is one being used in solar thermal power plants, where the sun's heat is used to heat water or other fluids. The fluids are kept hot long after the sun goes down, ready to be used later to produce steam to generate electricity.

The excess electricity generated by wind in the late night and early morning hours could be pumped into the grid and removed by storage facilities (like pumped-storage hydroelectricity or compressed-air facilities) to match the utility loading in the daytime.

Vick and colleagues at Bushland have tested and helped on the design of wind turbines and hybrid wind/solar systems for off-grid rural applications, residential grid systems and wind farms for the U.S. Department of Energy. They also have designed and tested wind/biodiesel hybrid systems that powered simulated electrical grids of remote locations like Alaskan fishing villages.

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Provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

3.8 /5 (8 votes)

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SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2010
Ranchers I know needing to water their open range grazing cattle in the California and Nevada high Sierra learned this years ago. They have been replacing wind mills with solar panels to run the well pumps during the hottest parts of the day when there is the most demand from their cattle.

As mentioned in the article, the windmills are most effective in the morning and the evenings.
3432682
2 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2010
Let me know when it is possible to store mass amounts of electricity cheaply. I'll check back in 20-30 years.
tarheelchief
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2010
It may well be that renewable resources may tap into tidal,wind, biomass and solar producers.One knows the grid can support many different sources if they are funneled into a major center.
degojoey
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2010
electric cars, nerve regeneration, organ growing, computers 20,000 times faster than now, Im sure in 20-30 years life as we know it today will be like how we look at prohibition times.
DaveMart
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2010
Renewables everywhere advocates always have a simple solution to any problem.
Throw more money at it.
Anyone who was sane would realise that if:
'there is almost an exact mismatch between wind power production and peak energy demands over a 24-hour period. In these locations, at the heights of modern wind turbines, winds are lowest at mid-day, when power demands are greatest. In Texas, there is also a seasonal mismatch: The winds are weakest in the summer, when power demands are highest.'

then building it, particularly in view of seasonal mismatches, is a really dumb idea.
Not these cookies.
They are prepared to spend as much of someone else's money as it takes to make a stupid system produce power.
A_Paradox
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2010
Let me know when it is possible to store mass amounts of electricity cheaply. I'll check back in 20-30 years.


There are two answers to this:
1/ when electric cars and delivery vans become the dominant form of transport in cities - in five to ten years time, max! - overnight recharging will absorb all baseload "excess" power from the grid.
2/ quite right that storing electric charge is expensive; the cost of the batteries will eventually be the main portion of the cost of such vehicles. However storing heat is very cheap to do because you just need bricks, concrete or stones. So a little lateral thinking shows that concentration of solar heat raising air to 250 deg C or more will allow the heating of rocks to that temperature [ie very hot oven temp] which, being stored, will allow cooking [of all styles]at any time of day. This can be done anywhere in the temperate and tropical zones.
ClickHere
not rated yet Aug 16, 2010
"five to ten years time, max!" - wishful thinking. I'm an advocate of sustainable energy for sure, don't get me wrong. Ya'll might want to study the numbers though.

The worlds largest solar-thermal power plant has a name plate capacity of 50MW, it's called Andasol 1, it's in Spain and occupies 200 hectares of land. It's capable of producing about 180Gigawatt-hours electricity per year. A coal / gas / nuclear plant of the same 50MW capacity would be able to produce about 394Gigawatt-hours.

That is, the worlds largest solar-thermal power plant is running at 41% Capacity Factor, compared with coal / gas / nuclear which are typically 90%.

So you'd need to over-build by about 41% to achieve the same output per year.

And also find massive amounts of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate to use for thermal storage.

ClickHere
not rated yet Aug 16, 2010
Keep in mind, the worlds largest solar-thermal power plant is 50MW (megawatt). The primary power station where I live is gas fired and has a name plate capacity of roughly 1.2GW (gigawatt), for a population of ~1.2 million.

So it'd take 24 Andasol 1 plants to power my city, including around 4800 hectares of land. That's a square approximately 6.9 kilometers along each side, or 4.2 miles.

Now go power every passenger and commercial vehicle on electricity.

It's a logistical nightmare.
ClickHere
not rated yet Aug 16, 2010
If you extrapolate that out (massive assumptions made here) to New York's population of about 20 million you'd need an Andasol 1 power plant covering a square of land 28.2 kilometers along each side, or 17.5 miles. Just over half of New York NY, or Los Angeles.

That is truly BIG!