Hopscotching the world for clear power headlines the opposite day, I chanced upon an article by one Bryan Leyland at an internet site that calls itself The Power Collective Group. Leyland payments himself as “a New Zealand-based electrical energy engineer with world huge expertise in energy era, energy programs and electrical energy markets.” The article he wrote was entitled, “The wind and solar energy delusion has lastly been uncovered.”

Properly, if there’s a delusion on the market about wind and solar energy, I actually needed to know extra. Maybe my entire profession as a author for CleanTechnica has been based mostly on a lie. Maybe if I knew the reality, I might mend my methods and begin disseminating the straight skinny to my readers. The Power Collective Group says it “brings collectively one of the best thinkers on power and local weather. Be part of us for sensible, insightful posts and conversations about the place the power business is and the place it’s going.”

Okay, then. I’m desirous about sensible, insightful posts and conversations about the place the power business goes. So take me by the hand, Bryan. Let’s see what you’ve bought. I dived into the story and right here’s what I discovered.

The Wind & Photo voltaic Delusion

After acknowledging that wind and photo voltaic are being prioritized by the governments of most international locations as a technique to slash emissions from producing electrical energy, Leyland writes, “These plans have a single, deadly flaw: they’re reliant on the pipe-dream that there’s some reasonably priced technique to retailer surplus electrical energy at scale.”

Not so, the extensively skilled electrical energy engineer claims. “In the true world, a wind farm’s output usually drops under 10 per cent of its rated ‘capability’ for days at a time. Solar energy disappears fully each night time and drops by 50 per cent or extra throughout cloudy days. ‘Capability’ being a largely meaningless determine for a wind or photo voltaic plant, about 3000 megawatts (MW) of wind and photo voltaic capability is required to interchange a 1000 MW typical energy station by way of power over time. And actually, as we will see, the traditional energy station or one thing very like it can nonetheless be wanted regularly as soon as the wind and photo voltaic are on-line.”

Leyland scoffs at the concept the best way to internet zero is to easily construct extra wind and photo voltaic installations. We are going to quickly come to seek out that we nonetheless want good quaint thermal producing stations to maintain the lights on when the wind doesn’t blow and the solar doesn’t shine.

“This brings with it a brand new working regime the place stations that have been designed to function repeatedly must comply with unpredictable fluctuations in wind and solar energy,” Leyland writes. “Consequently, working and upkeep prices have elevated and plenty of stations have needed to be shut down. Actually it’s already frequent to see environment friendly combined-cycle fuel generators changed by open-cycle ones as a result of they are often throttled up and down simply to again up the quickly altering output of wind and photo voltaic farms. However open-cycle fuel generators burn about twice as a lot fuel as mixed cycle fuel generators. Switching to high-emissions equipment as a part of an effort to cut back emissions is, frankly, insanity!”

Wind & Photo voltaic Insanity!

Leyland is simply getting warmed up. Nations which used to provide electrical energy by way of cross border transmission traces will not find a way to take action as a result of all of their baseload thermal turbines have been shut down as a consequence of surges in renewable power, a lot of which will likely be squandered — curtailed is the phrase the business makes use of —  when the solar is shining and the wind is blowing. Energy costs will soar, making roughly every thing costlier, and there will likely be frequent blackouts.

Constructing much more renewable capability won’t assist. Even 10 or 100 occasions the nominally mandatory “capability” might by no means do the job on a chilly, windless night, Leyland factors out. We are going to want giant scale power storage, enough to maintain the lights on for a number of days. He calculates that California will want 200 MWh of put in storage for each MW of wind and solar energy.

Since the price of battery storage is at the moment $600,000 per MWh, that equates to $90 million wanted for each MW of renewable power generated within the Golden State. Since photo voltaic farms now price $1.5 million per MW, by lightning-like calculation, storage will price 80 occasions greater than the price of constructing a solar energy plant within the first place.

Nevertheless it will get worse. There’s not sufficient lithium, cobalt, and uncommon earth minerals to make all of the batteries that will be wanted to retailer that a lot electrical energy, and the hunt for extra will push commodity costs into the stratosphere.

None Of The Options Are Possible

Leyland then catalogs all of the potential different power storage applied sciences and dismiss all of them. Pumped hydro received’t save us as a result of it will probably solely provide energy for six to 10 hours of operation. What’s worse, there are only a few locations the place giant hydro storage amenities will be constructed. “Hydro-pumped storage will seldom be a possible possibility. It can not remedy the issue on a nationwide scale even in international locations just like the USA which have numerous mountains,” Leyland writes.

Carbon seize and storage is simply wishful pondering. Not solely does it eat many of the power it saves, storing the carbon dioxide is a big drawback as a result of three tons of carbon dioxide are produced for each ton of coal burned.

Hydrogen? Overlook about it. Most of it’s produced from methane, in order that’s a non-starter. Inexperienced hydrogen made by electrolyzing water makes use of large quantities {of electrical} power, 60% of which is misplaced within the course of.

It will get worse. Storing and dealing with hydrogen is extraordinarily troublesome. It leaks from each obtainable level, so by the point you go to make use of it, most of it has dissipated. The opposite draw back is the chance of fireside and explosion.

There Is Good Information, Nonetheless

Issues should not hopeless, Leyland concludes. “There’s one expertise that may present an affordable and dependable provide of low emissions electrical energy — nuclear energy. Curiosity in nuclear energy is rising as increasingly folks understand that it’s protected and dependable. If regulators and the general public may very well be persuaded that trendy stations are inherently protected and that low ranges of nuclear radiation should not harmful, nuclear energy might present all of the low price, low emissions electrical energy the world wants for tons of or 1000’s of years.”

Right here in the end is Leyland’s level. “If we had 100% nuclear backup for photo voltaic and wind, we wouldn’t want the wind and photo voltaic vegetation in any respect. Wind and photo voltaic are, in actual fact, fully pointless.”

So Who Is Bryan Leyland?

Leyland actually talks an excellent recreation. He sounds authoritative and a few of the factors he makes about carbon seize and inexperienced hydrogen are legitimate. However who is that this man? Slightly digging on the web introduced me to the New Zealand Media Council, which has fairly a file on Bryan Leyland. He has lodged a criticism with the Council in opposition to the New Zealand Herald, which he says is failing to report that world warming is not taking place.

In his criticism, Leyland argued the stories within the Herald that referenced the consensus amongst local weather scientists that human motion is inflicting world heating with out presenting dissenting opinions is irresponsible. “Consensus is all about politics and faith and never about science,” Leyland wrote. “Galileo was in opposition to the consensus of the time. Many scientific breakthroughs have been in opposition to the consensus.” He maintained the world has not warmed in recent times opposite to all predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change. By its failure to say this absence of warming, the newspaper had been deceptive its readers, he alleged.

The New Zealand Herald responded by saying it acknowledged its want for stability in protection, however argued that such a stability must be in proportion. “Simply because somebody holds an eccentric view, it doesn’t imply they’re entitled to run within the paper.” The Herald reiterated its perception in “the state of the talk in peer-reviewed scientific literature, not the media. There might be debate in cyber area and amongst letter writers however it’s not occurring the place it counts — peer reviewed scientific journals. “

The Media Council reviewed Leyland’s criticism rigorously and determined the Herald is beneath no obligation to report on each dissenting opinion. It due to this fact dismissed Leyland’s criticism.

The Takeaway

There are two takeaways from this tempest in a teapot. One, extra international locations ought to have a media council the place precise journalists attempt to guard the integrity of the press. Two, there truly is a possible resolution to the necessity for zero carbon electrical energy that doesn’t mar the panorama, doesn’t depend upon the wind, and doesn’t want sunshine. It really works 24 hours a day daily of the 12 months and can for tens of 1000’s of years with out the necessity for batteries or different power storage methods. As well as, it may be put in regionally so it doesn’t have to depend on excessive voltage transmission traces.

Need to know what this miracle energy supply is? It’s known as geothermal power, and it depends on the truth that temperatures under the Earth’s crust — which is about 12 miles thick — vary from 1000º C to 3600º C. That’s scorching sufficient to make supercritical steam that may energy present mixed cycle generators to make zero emissions power.

Will the warmth under the floor of the Earth ever run out? Sure it can, in a pair million years. It’s an thought that’s being pursued by Quaise Power and the US Division of Power. It may also be utilized in district heating programs to heat and funky our properties and business buildings.

Simply think about a world with considerable, low price electrical energy that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere. No new nukes, coal- or gas-fired producing vegetation, no costly transmission traces, no wind generators and photo voltaic panels marching throughout the panorama from horizon to horizon. We surprise what Bryan Leyland would consider that?


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