Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Intermittent and Unreliable

 The common criticism on solar and wind energy is it's intermittent and unreliable.  The truth is nuclear fits this definition better.

With an array of solar panels, or wind turbines, failures of one do not shut down the source, do not cause the grid to instantly shop for another source or black out a region.  Heat waves do not impact wind or solar as it does nuclear (and coal and gas as well) plants cooling requirement.  In 2003 the heat wave across Europe shut down several of France's reactors, water temperatures were to high to cool them.  Nuclear plants have the most unscheduled outages of any energy source.  This week Diablo Canyon in Calif. went down during the heat wave when demand was highest.

But but but, intermittent, unreliable, the wind turbines stop if it calms, solar only helps during daylight and bright days.  Well, these are not unknown and not unforeseen.  Grid managers use weather forecasts to plan for the cloudy or foggy days when solar arrays may produce at a lower output, and give them credit, they even know about night time.  Calm periods are also seen in forecasts by wind operators who plan accordingly.  Recently the grid went to 15 minute sales contracts, before it was 1 hour lots.  This as well as more renewable assets dispersed over wide area to average weather variations  allows for increased flexibility of the grid, and improves the happiness and wholesomeness of the American traditional family.  (Was that over the top?)   It turns out intermittent and unreliable is at least if not more applicable to the nuke and fire stoked energy sources.
Slipping through the cracks in the news, and being pressured by industry money to have it that way, Fracking well explosions.  Several this year, yesterday in West Virgennnny sent 4 seriously hurt to hospital, the day of the Boston bombing another in West Virgennnny killed some workers.

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