Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, Politics and Economics

Nuclear is looking better and better, eh?

Addendum to my last post: This is a bit of something by Steven DenBeste which I saved back in 2007(?). It concerns another aspect of  electrical generation which the Gubmint and the renewable energy co-coreligionists never (ever) talk about when touting Solar power. I guess they don’t cover much electrical engineering in poly-sci classes, eh?


Steven DenBeste a USS Clueless:

… The fact is that electric power has unique properties, and one of the most important is that at any given instant the amount of electric power being generated will always exactly match the amount of power being consumed. If you don’t deliberately balance the system, the laws of physics will do the balancing for you in ways you won’t like.

Electric power has to be generated at the time it is needed, and the electric power grid overall has to have the ability to add generation capacity as demand rises, and to reduce generation when demand falls again. Demand actually rises and falls by as much as 30% every day.

The biggest drawback of wind/solar is that they generate power when conditions permit them to do so, not when demand requires them to do so. And there’s no practical way to store electric energy in adequate quantities to deal with this without unacceptable losses or unreasonable capital and/or operating expense. (This is a major flaw of most of the fad alternate electrical energy sources we hear so much about.)

It is by no means the only serious objection I have to solar/wind, but it is a major one. …


DCF 1.0

Toronto Ontario Blackout in 2003

So what Steven was talking about when he said “the laws of physics will do the balancing for you in ways you won’t like.” was the sort of thing that caused the Toronto, Ontario blackout of 2003.

This is the reason why you cannot shut down your existing power generation systems when switching to “Renewable”, because you cannot rely on renewable and you cannot store electricity in the amounts required.

This is what Germany discovered in the 90’s when the gubmint refused to listen to the power engineers and bulled ahead switching from coal to solar. In the end they had to keep the old plants going in order to keep the grid up when demand didn’t match the available sunlight.

Like it is right now, here in the Shire where it is currently -20 degrees Celsius and as usual in winter it is dark (eg. no sunlight to run our solar energy systems). Depending on the thermal mass of your building it doesn’t take very long before folks are getting uncomfortable as the “shelter heads towards ambient temperature.

When the electricity generation suppliers are unable to match the power demand to the power being generated the grid goes down – including automatic shutdowns of power generation stations and the result is commonly referred to as a power failure or blackout.

cdn-ddh-heavy-weather-87471.jpgWhen the Generator Stations go down the providers have to get things going again with what is known as a “Black Start”. This takes time. Sometimes a lot of time.

Back in the 70’s when I served in steam turbine destroyers it was typically about 24 hours to get up steam and warm everything up and turn everything up to speed before you could “turn main engines”, and steam away to whatever mission the gubmint sent you on.

Those were very small turbines and boilers compared to those found in a thermal generation station using steam turbines. Electrical generation boilers and turbines are a LOT bigger and consequently take longer to cool down and longer to warm up like one to two days.

What this means is that you cannot just shut down your coal plants and replace them with solar farms because your grid will go down the first night you are relying on solar. So, anyway, a black start is the process of restoring an electric power station or a part of an electric grid to operation without relying on the external transmission network.[1]


Dark Places are NOT nice places to live …

Normally, the electric power used within the plant is provided from the station’s own generators. If all of the plant’s main generators are shut down, station service power is provided by drawing power from the grid through the plant’s transmission line.

If the grid goes down then you have a little problem and things are cooling down and the longer they cool the longer it takes to bring them up, and so on as predicted accurately by the laws of physics and mathematics which really don’t care much about religion and politics.

However, during a wide-area outage, off-site power supply from the grid will not be available. In the absence of grid power, a so-called black start needs to be performed to bootstrap the power grid into operation.

To provide a black start, some power stations have small diesel generators, normally called the black start diesel generator (BSDG), which can be used to start larger generators (of several megawatts capacity), which in turn can be used to start the main power station generators.

Generating plants using steam turbines require station service power of up to 10% of their capacity for boiler feedwater pumps, boiler forced-draft combustion air blowers, and for fuel preparation. It is uneconomical to provide such a large standby capacity at each station, so black-start power must be provided over designated tie lines from another station.

1111-steam-plantThis power station uses the Rankine cycle  This is the cycle of the steam produced in the boiler, then taken to the Steam turbine (prime mover). From the turbine the steam is cooled back to water in the Condenser, the resulting water is fed back into the boiler to repeat the cycle.

A steam/thermal power station uses heat energy generated from burning coal to produce electrical energy. This type of power station is widely used around the world to generate base load because it is cheap and efficient and reliable.

The cold start up times and procedures for a steam turbine depends on its casing and rotor temperature. As the turbine is subjected to high temperature and pressure for long time, it is mandatory requirement that there is a uniform heating and expansion of turbine.

Otherwise due to uneven heating, uneven expansion will occur which can finally lead to either permanent deformation of turbine rotor or any other catastrophic failure (explosion). The terms which have been asked vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but the basic difference remains the same


The Dark Lord’s Domain …

Because of the abundance of fuel (coal), this kind of power station can be used to produce large amounts of electrical energy. In most countries these power stations are used as base load power stations. This is because steam power stations are slow to start and can not be used to cater for peak loads that generally occur for a short duration.

These power stations (together with nuclear power stations) are kept running very close to full efficiency for 24 hours a day (unless they are being maintained). They have typical life of 30 to 40 years (although most governments have reduced this number to 35 years).

What Rachel is talking about doing is dropping 40% of our generation capacity by the end of 2018 and replacing it with Solar. AS mentioned above this contravenes a number of physical laws and flies in the face of the European experience since 1997.

Better buy up some woollies and parkas cause there are some very cold houses and factories in our future. Memo to Dark Lord Rachel: Mother nature and the laws of physics and engineering are against you on this one. No amount of religious zeal will make this work.

Please, please just save us all a lot of pain and honestly tell us right up front that your agenda IS TO DESTROY Alberta.




What?  Me Worry?